Dear President Obama:
We commend your administration for your firm commitment to end the devastating slaughter of elephants for their ivory and to ensure that the United States is not helping to drive the illegal wildlife trade. Along with 80% of the American people*, the undersigned companies, conservation groups and concerned individuals strongly support ending commercial trade in elephant ivory in the US. We believe we must take all necessary steps to protect these magnificent creatures from extinction.
Fewer than half a million elephants remain in Africa’s savannas and jungles—a massive plunge over the last 50 years. Recently, the killing has surged: Poachers are slaughtering on average one elephant every 15 minutes, and some populations are now on a path to extinction.
Reports from US intelligence agencies and the UN also show that profits from ivory trafficking are fueling crime, corruption and violence in fragile African democracies and financing organizations that threaten both American and African security.
America's role in the consumption and sale of ivory makes the US complicit in this crisis and weakens our moral authority to lead internationally. The US is the world's second-largest market for wildlife products, and significant amounts of illegal elephant ivory have been found entering the American market. We must strengthen our laws to prevent this from happening and to encourage other countries to act with similar urgency.
We thank you for your unprecedented leadership on this issue. Combined with new US efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, the ivory rules proposed by your administration can help turn the tide for Africa's elephants.
We share the American public's desire to end the US role in the illegal ivory trade. We believe that your decision to halt elephant ivory commerce in the US is the right response to the current crisis. For the sake of the world's elephants, we urge you to keep that promise.
Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE
Azzedine Downes, President and CEO, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Carter Roberts, President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, DPhil, OBE, Save the Elephants
African Wildlife Foundation
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Jane Goodall Institute
Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
Tiffany & Co.
Wildlife Conservation Network
Wildlife Conservation Society
Special thanks to the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation
New US regulations do not affect possession of ivory. However, with a few exceptions, sales of elephant ivory are prohibited. Learn more.
*Beekeeper Group poll, August 6-12, 2013. “Nationwide Polling Results on Prohibition of Ivory Sales.”