**NEWS FROM WCS**
MARY DIXON: (1-347-840-1242; email@example.com)
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-908-247-2585; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Statement from WCS on Times Square Ivory Crush
New York, June 19, 2015 -- The following remarks were given today by WCS Executive Vice President John Calvelli at the Ivory Crush:
“Today we are crushing ivory. Today we are crushing an international crime wiping out elephants.
“I am proud to be standing here today at this historic event in New York City’s iconic Times Square with my fellow colleagues:
· Jimmiel Mandima, from the African Wildlife Foundation;
· Iris Ho, representing The Humane Society of the United States;
· Azzedine Downes, CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare;
· Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council; and
· Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund.
“Together, we want to thank our partners in government for their leadership in this effort -- in particular Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.
“We are not only partners in this event but partners in the fight to end the global illegal wildlife trade. And here in the U.S. there is broader coalition of 197 organizations in 45 states working together on this very issue.
“With the destruction today of more than one ton of confiscated ivory in the city that until quite recently hosted the largest ivory market in the United States, we send an important signal to the nation, as well as to other nations with active ivory markets, and to global wildlife trafficking networks that when it comes to ivory, the United States is closing for business. And not a moment too soon.
“The global ivory trade is currently responsible for the brutal slaughter of as many as 35,000 elephants a year in Africa. That is 96 elephants per day, or 1 elephant every 15 minutes. Since this crisis began to escalate, our organizations came together more than two years ago to work in a coordinated fashion to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand.
“What we know is that demand for ivory is a key driver of elephant poaching. By destroying confiscated ivory, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service affirms the stated goal of the Obama Administration to bring the domestic ivory trade in the United States – one of the world’s largest markets -- to an end.
“Organized criminal syndicates have for years exploited the existence of loopholes in the legal ivory trade to peddle their illegal ivory, which is virtually indistinguishable from “legal” ivory that predates the 1989 CITES ban. As illegal elephant ivory makes its way onto the shelves of both legitimate and illegal dealers, commanding higher and higher prices, the killing of elephants in Africa continues.
“It was to halt this very trade that the states of New York and New Jersey enacted bans on the sale and trade of ivory and rhino horn. Similar bans are now making their way through the legislatures of several states including California, the second largest ivory market in the US.
“And just two weeks ago, China—home to the world’s largest ivory market—signaled its intention to shut down its domestic ivory trade, a move that could truly be a game-changer in the effort to save elephants. The United States, China, and other ivory consumer countries must continue to work together to close their domestic ivory markets.
“Today’s crush demonstrates that the United States is doing just that.
“Today is a great day for elephants. Today is a really bad day for ivory traffickers.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia Follow: @thewcs.
96 Elephants WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa’s elephants and end the current poaching and ivory trafficking crisis. In 2013, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign to bring together world citizens, partners, thought leaders, and change makers to leverage collective influence to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. The campaign, which has partners from around the world including 125 U.S. zoos, focuses on: securing effective moratoria on sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis. www.96elephants.org
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