The ivory trade is an "ecological and moral disaster" that requires businesses and consumers to take up the fight, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton argued in a joint op-ed published February 23 in the Financial Times.
Hillary, the former U.S. secretary of state, has been a vocal opponent of the black market trade in wildlife parts, calling for a global strategy to protect wildlife in their environments and dry up demand for trafficked wildlife goods. (Related: "Blood Ivory" in National Geographic magazine.)
"An estimated 35,000 elephants and more than 1,000 rhinos were killed last year alone. At this rate we are on a path towards the extinction of both elephants and rhinos on the African continent," the Clintons wrote. Chelsea is the vice-chair of the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit that tackles various global challenges.
"We strongly endorse a complete ban on ivory sales in the U.S. The global ban agreed [to] in 1989 was successful in stemming a previous killing spree. Over time, however, exceptions have eviscerated the international ban and illegal ivory is now routinely bought and sold under one or more loopholes, providing cover for illegal traffickers. These need to be closed and sanctions imposed on countries that continue to trade in ivory products."
The Clintons also noted they are proud of the Obama Administration's recent restrictions on the ivory trade, which are designed to create "a near complete ban" on the commercial sale of African elephant ivory.
That federal action complements growing momentum among states such as New York, which are now contemplating their own ivory bans. Many countries, including, most recently, Chad, on February 21, have also begun destroying their ivory stocks.
Among key provisions, the new ivory rules ban the commercial import of African elephant ivory, meaning that it will now be illegal to import antique ivory commercially. (Related: "Hong Kong Announces World's Biggest Ivory Burn.")
"Ultimately, saving Africa's elephants depends on consumers everywhere," the Clintons assert.
For instance, "retailers need to stop selling ivory products. And businesses need to blow the whistle on government officials and institutions that have been corrupted by this lucrative, illegal trade." (Read more in National Geographic's A Voice for Elephants blog.)
"And as consumers, we should urge companies to help law enforcement authorities disrupt the transfer of tusks, rhino horn and wildlife products on ships, aircraft and trucks. Financial institutions should help to trace illegal transactions, freeze assets and impound ill-gotten gains from illegal trafficking."
There are small things people can do to help: The U.S. Postal Service is selling Save Vanishing Species stamps, which have raised over two and a half million dollars for species conservation.
"Only by working together can we beat this crisis, break the nexus between trafficking and terrorism, and make sure these incredible creatures will roam the earth for generations to come," the Clintons wrote.