Despite international bans, demand for ivory from elephant tusks has grown so strong that it has devastated elephant populations in Africa. Now former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, wants to help.
According to the Washington Post, Clinton has met with representatives from many environmental groups and National Geographic to formulate a plan. “She will use her political connections as America’s former secretary of state to enlist other world leaders in the effort to curtail the illegal ivory trade.” Because China buys about 40 percent of the ivory traded globally, she will focus her efforts there, according to the South China Morning Post. Clinton’s move comes just two weeks after President Obama announced new funding to curb elephant poaching: He has earmarked $10 million to combat wildlife trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa.
The African elephant population has dropped from 1.2 million in 1980 to just 420,000 last year. According to the Post, about 30,000 elephants were killed illegally last year, with their tusks selling for as much as $1000 a pound. (The U.S. banned the import of ivory from African elephants in 1989, with the exception of antiques). While all elephants have been devastated, the African forest elephants are particularly at risk. These elephants are smaller than the renowned savannah African elephant and live in more open forest clearings that easily attract poachers. The Wildlife Conservation Society estimated that their population has fallen by about 76 percent in the last decade.