Elephants are some of the most compassionate and gentle animals in the world. They also have tusks that, sometime long ago, were considered to be valuable for everything from gun handles to piano keys to jewelry.
Ivory trade is banned in the United States and in many other countries, but poaching of these magnificent creatures is still a major problem – so much so, that the species could be extinct during our lifetimes. Personally, I’d rather humans go extinct.
Hillary Clinton is teaming up with her daughter Chelsea to help preserve the African elephant population with a generous $80 million effort. It’s a passion from her time as First Lady.
Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were introduced to the poaching threat to elephants during a visit to Africa in 1997. Chelsea Clinton made a return trip last July. The Clintons’ involvement boosts the profile of the fight against the illegal wildlife trade at a time when the elephants need it most, conservation leaders said. Some 95 African elephants are killed every day for their ivory – park rangers in Zimbabwe this week found the corpses of 90 that had been poisoned with cyanide– in an illegal trade that has grown exponentially since the late 1990s.
The CGI anti-poaching plan was the first big international cause championed by Hillary Clinton after she stepped down as secretary of state at the start of this year, after four years in the job. Clinton also gave prominence to wildlife trafficking as a national security threat during her time in the Obama administration. The White House has also taken up the issue, with a new initiative to stop poaching.
The funds now mobilised will be used to hire and train 3,100 park rangers at 50 sites in eastern and central Africa; to fund sniffer-dog teams along the top smuggling routes; and to train law-enforcement officials and judges responsible for prosecuting international trafficking gangs. The CGI is looking to raise an additional $70m for the anti-poaching plan over the next three years.
Just like with any illegal trade, the goal, according to experts, should be to go up the proverbial food chain. They need to find the people who are commissioning the ivory, not just the ivory hunters. The Clintons are hoping to address that by earmarking some of the money to change international law, making it illegal to sell or purchase ivory.
Featured image via Wikipedia.