14 Important Facts To Know About Wildlife Trafficking Right Now

The federal government has recently spoken out against wildlife trafficking, taking measures to end the criminal network that supplies illegal goods to thousands around the globe. The US is one of the main consumers of these products.

1. On Monday, September 9, White House panelists announced that the US will destroy six tons of ivory that has been confiscated by American officials over the past 25 years.

ISHARA S.KODIKARA / Getty Images

2. According to Reuters, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stated that this is an important step toward ending animal trafficking across the globe.

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3. The Wildlife Conservation Society sent out a statement today explaining, “When countries destroy their ivory stockpiles, it eliminates opportunities for corruption and guarantees the ivory doesn’t land back on the black market. “

Nariman El-Mofty / AP

4. There is no way to obtain the ivory of an elephant without killing them. Elephants are often shot before their ivory tusks are removed with a machete.

CARL DE SOUZA / Getty Images

Many of the elephants are still alive for the procedure, however, and are left to bleed to death after their tusks are removed.

5. An Executive Order was established July 1, 2013 by President Obama that outlined the US’s plan to end wildlife trafficking at home and abroad.

MIKE HUTCHINGS / Reuters

This order called upon multiple US agencies to join together to stop the criminal network. Reuters states, the “Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Council to work together to tackle the issue.”

6. According to Interior Secretary Jewell, wildlife trafficking has doubled since 2007.

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Wildlife trafficking consists of a widespread network of organized crime that helps to fund and sustain other violent criminal activity. There are more lives at stake than just the elephants’.

7. Reuters states that the global demand has increased for the products made from endangered animals, their prices rising dramatically.

LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / Getty Images

Dan Ashe, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, says the trafficking has been “well-funded” and “well-organized.” The United States is one of the leading consumers of these illegal products.

8. And it’s not just elephants that are affected by the trade. Rhinoceros horns are now worth twice their weight in gold!

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9. Tigers, apes, and other “iconic animals” are targets of the trafficking as well.

10. Carter Roberts, head of the World Wildlife Fund, describes the traffickers as using sophisticated technology with great funding.

MARTIN BUREAU / Getty Images

“One of the keys tools at our disposal is going to be technology and inventing new ways to catch the bad guys before it’s too late,” he said. “We are being outgunned right now by these criminal syndicates.”

11. Through education and discussion of wildlife trafficking, the public can become more informed of its effects, and they can avoid supporting the ivory trade.

Dan Kitwood / AP

Even though many of the poachers and traffickers use sophisticated technology, individuals can help to end their trade by avoiding the purchase of ivory products. Without the demand, the trade will no longer feel the need to supply!

12. The World Wildlife Fund has created a series of videos explaining the dynamics of wildlife trafficking and what you can do to help.

Warning: this video contains graphic images

13. Thanks to Monday’s announcement, the federal government is more proactive than ever in stopping the poaching of endangered animals.

Ben Curtis / AP

The Wildlife Conservation Society has an online form you can use to contact your members of Congress and let them know how you feel about poaching.

They also have a form for messages to Secretary Jewell.

14. According to Reuters, the US plans to crush the confiscated ivory on October 8. The stash is estimated to be worth a total of $12 million.

CARL DE SOUZA / AFP / Getty

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