Conservation International Joins Forces with Clinton Global Initiative and Partners to Combat Ivory Trafficking

9/25/2013

​Organization joins multimillion dollar global action plan to Save Africa’s Elephants from rampant illegal wildlife trade that is decimating species, undermining natural capital for sustainable development and threatening security in the U.S. and abroad.

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Arlington, VA / New York, NY — Joining forces with four leading conservation partners and with the support of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and several African governments, Conservation International (CI) announced its participation today in a three-year $80 million global action plan to Save Africa's Elephants from illegal ivory trade. Wildlife trafficking has exploded in recent years and increasingly threatens to undermine U.S. and global economic and security interests, while decimating Sub Saharan Africa's culturally, ecologically, and financially valuable natural wealth.

CI's Co-founder, Chairman and CEO, Peter Seligmann​, expressed his full support for the Commitment to Action, along with peers from the African Wildlife Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund, who joined Clinton Foundation Vice Chair, Chelsea Clinton, on stage at the CGI an​nual meeting in New York this week. Conservation International is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Seligmann said: "We applaud the Clinton Global Initiative for bringing this issue to the world stage, and greatly appreciate the deep and sustained personal involvement of Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, as well as that of our NGO, foundation and government partners. Wildlife trafficking is directly connected to the global economy and security. It weakens ecosystems, fuels terrorist organizations, and threatens livelihoods. Conservation International is proud to be a part of this Commitment to Action, as it is in all of our enlightened self-interests to put an end to this deadly trade."

As one of the world's most lucrative criminal activities, valued at $7-10 billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting. Rapidly growing demand in Asia and skyrocketing prices for ivory in the black market have been fueling the massive slaughter of elephants and pushing them to the brink of extinction. The populations of African forest elephants have declined by 76 percent since 2002 and there are now only about 80,000 remaining in the wild. It is estimated that at least 35,000 African elephants were slaughtered by poachers in 2012 alone. Used in products ranging from chopsticks to expensive carvings, ivory currently sells for nearly $1,000 per pound.

Illegal wildlife trade has been increasingly practiced by terrorist organizations. Money from poaching is directly linked to funding of rebel organizations and terrorist networks like the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda and al Shabaab in Somalia, an al-Qaeda-linked group that claimed responsibility for a deadly assault on a mall in Kenya this past weekend. Areas controlled by militants and gangs are used as staging areas for smuggling illegal ivory, and profits from poaching are used to fund weapons purchases.

Elephants are an essential component of the world's remaining forests and natural habitats that provide food, water and other benefits for impoverished communities in developing countries, as well as major economic contributions to nations in the form of wildlife-based tourism. Globally, wildlife-based tourism has been estimated to account for 20-40 percent of all international tourism. For instance, Botswana’s wildlife resources, including the country's elephant population, represent a key source of employment and income associated with tourism, which has been identified by the government as an engine of future economic growth.

Conservation International works with 19 African elephant countries through various initiatives. The organization is committed to work with governments to disrupt illicit networks by ensuring that national development plans value and protect elephants. "This will help to provide local communities with economic opportunities from wildlife tourism as an alternative to illegal poaching for the ivory trade," said Seligmann.

Conservation International also applauds His Excellency Ian Khama, President of Botswana and CI board member, for his leadership role in combating wildlife trafficking. Today, Botswana and several African nations announced at the Clinton Global Initiative a commitment to pursue or re-state national moratoria on all commercial imports, exports and domestic sales and purchases of tusks and ivory products until wild elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching for trade.

"We congratulate President Ian Khama for his leadership in recognizing that wildlife is more precious alive, as a source of sustainable development. We hope this commitment will encourage other countries to follow suit," said Seligmann.

Botswana co-hosted with Conservation International a summit in May 2012 that resulted in leaders from ten African nations signing on to the landmark Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa and pledging to value and account for their natural capital in national accounting systems. At the summit, countries reaffirmed their determination to promote sustainable development by placing nature’s goods and services at the center of national planning processes.

The signing members of the Gaborone Declaration will meet again in October to share progress made so far and update their plans in an event organized by the Government of Botswana, Conservation International, the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank.

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Available content for media (***Please Provide Image Credits***)

Elephant and ivory trafficking photos and b-roll available for download: https://ci.tandemvault.com/lightboxes/7646?tc=AmUfZrTqN#/

Learn more about the Commitment to Save Africa's Elephants: http://get.cgilink.org/v/c/830597​

Learn more about the Gaborone Declaration at: www.conservation.org/ssa

 

For more information, contact:

Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui, Senior Media Manager, Conservation International

Tel. +1 (703) 341-2471 / pmalentaqui@conservation.org 

 

Note to editors:

Conservation International - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area. CI employs more than 800 staff in 29 countries on six continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see www.conservation.org or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion.

CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, andCGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.​