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Lawmakers call for ivory sales ban to save elephants from extinction


35,000 wild elephants are slaughtered annually for their tusks


WASHINGTON DC – Lawmakers, citizens, and distinguished conservation experts will unite for elephants to call for an unequivocal ban on the commercial trade of ivory on Saturday, October 4, Noon to 2:00 p.m. at the second annual International March for Elephants.


The 2014 March will proceed at 12:05 p.m. from the Lincoln Memorial over the following route: north on Constitution Avenue to 15th Street; north on 15th Street to H Street; and then west on H Street to Lafayette Park for the 12:45 p.m. rally.


“We are facing the genocide of Africa’s elephants,” said Andrew Dobson, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He is one of the distinguished speakers scheduled to deliver remarks on Oct. 4. “Anybody who buys any sort of ivory is enhancing the risk that future generations will live in a world without elephants. Trade in any form of elephant products increases the demand for more elephants to be killed.”


As a long-time advocate for animals, New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20), introduced groundbreaking legislation this past spring to ban the domestic sale of ivory and rhino horn in New Jersey. The senator will open the DC event at the Lincoln Memorial with brief remarks to kick off the procession. After the march, he will deliver keynote remarks before the White House for the protection of the elephant species at Lafayette Square.


“The black market sales of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns is thriving, fueled by the slaughter of an estimated 35,000 elephants a year and supported by the sale and purchase of ivory and rhinoceros horn products,” said Sen. Lesniak. “We’re all creatures of God, and we need to recognize that, and treat all animals that way, and keep God’s creatures alive wherever they roam the earth and certainly not contribute to their extinction.”


In the State Assembly, the New Jersey ban on ivory and rhino horn commerce was sponsored by freshman lawmaker Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), who will also offer keynote remarks at the rally. Governor Chris Christie signed the ban into law on August 5, 2014, marking this galvanizing movement to save elephants from extinction as a bipartisan one.


“The blood ivory trade is driving elephants and other endangered and threatened species toward extinction while funding the operations of terrorist organizations,” Assemblyman Mukherji stated. “To end poaching and trafficking, we must eliminate markets and profits for traffickers. That’s why we need a complete, nationwide ban on ivory commerce, following New Jersey’s lead.” Mukherji will close the 2014 DC rally for elephants on Oct. 4 at Lafayette Square in front of the White House.


The International March for Elephants was incepted in 2013 through the iWorry campaign of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a Kenyan field organization that rescues and cares for orphaned elephants. National Geographic called the 2013 event “the first global march for another species in the history of humankind.”


This year musician John Beacher, a songwriter and singer from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, will be performing.


Other speakers include Washington DC Councilman David Grosso and Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of The Humane Society of the United States, and renowned artist Asher Jay who is a 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer.


“Given that the United States is the second largest ivory marketplace in the world, we cannot ask other countries to make sacrifices and not make any of our own,” said Pacelle. “We must stop allowing traffickers to pass off the ivory of newly poached elephants as legally acquired ivory – including antique ivory.”


The wild elephant population is being decimated for ivory trinkets. 100,000 wild elephants were slaughtered between 2010 and 2012. Actress Meryl Streep – a New Jersey native – called the elephant ivory trade one of “horrific cruelty.”


In addition to Elephants DC and HSUS, Born Free USA and Humane Society International representatives will be in attendance. The rally will end before the White House with a declaration to save elephants from extinction.


According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, “The elephant poaching crisis has reached historic levels – in fact, elephants are now being killed faster than they are being born. Born Free USA recently released two groundbreaking reports about the ivory trade – Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa – which demonstrate in great detail how organized crime networks across Africa traffic ivory from slaughtered elephants to fund their operations. We learned of the close links between the poaching crisis and violent militias, organized crime, and overseas trade routes.”


Extremist groups in Africa, such as Janjaweed, Lord’s Resistance Army, and the Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab threaten American security and are funded by the ivory trade. Ivory has become a conflict resource.


The legal ivory market fuels the illegal ivory market. New ivory is tampered with to look old. Thus, illegal ivory hides behind the guise of “antique,” “mammoth,” “bone,” “art,” “trophy,” and even “jewelry” on the marketplace.


"Right now, the federal law has too many exceptions that can easily be circumvented by those who are dealing illegal ivory here in the United States," Sen. Lesniak said. He expressed hope that the New Jersey ban will serve as a model for the federal government to tighten up its trade loopholes contributing to the extinction of elephants and rhinos.


October 4, 2013 saw more than 30 international marches around the world, and now even more people are aware that keystone species face extinction for their body parts. This year, there will be more than 100 cities holding events for elephants, rhinos, and lions on World Animal Day as part of a global movement.


Ivory used in musical instruments has been a point of contention, but one of the most famous pianists in the world has expressed his support for elephants.  “There are other materials which can be substituted for piano keys. But magnificent creatures like these can never be replaced. Music must never be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species,” Billy Joel said. “Music should be a celebration of life – not an instrument of death.”


"Piecemeal prohibitions merely shift poachers’ and traffickers’ activities and thwart enforcement efforts,” Assemblyman Mukherji noted. “A ban on ivory sales would be in the interest of national security and will protect these species.”


Regionally, Elephants DC is organizing the 2014 DC march as an emerging nonprofit composed of elephant advocates from around the country. eDC encourages states across America, and federal lawmakers, to support bipartisan legislation to fully ban the domestic sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn immediately.


“Criminals are slaughtering these gentle giants at a rate of 96 each day – that’s 1 every 15 minutes,” said Jen Samuel, Elephants DC president. “Yet children across America and around the world learn that ‘E’ is for ‘elephant,’ not for ‘extinction.’ The second annual International March for Elephants, a free event open to the public, is dedicated to ensuring children grow up in a world where elephants – and our humanity – still thrive. We must, we can, and we shall ban all ivory sales.”


Elephants DC is dedicated to elephant well-being and ending the ivory trade worldwide.


For more, visit: www.elephantsdc.org. To check out the 2014 DC event page, go to: www.facebook.com/events/300589353431082/


#‎MarchAgainstExtinction‬‬‬‬‬‬‬


September 18, 2014


Media contact:

Elephants DC president

Jen Samuel

info@elephantsDC.org

 484-868-8405


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