February 03, 2014After receiving information that African elephants are headed for extinction and elephant ivory poaching is funding terrorism, Assemblyman Bob Sweeney wrote a letter imploring the Department of Conservation to prohibit the sale of ivory in New York.
"I am urging them to choose to protect elephants and to stop issuing licenses permitting the sale of ivory until there are provisions in place that will provide the elephants with the protections they need," said Sweeney, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation. "I think it is unacceptable that 96 elephants die per day to satisfy the vanity ivory market and to finance terrorism."
Sweeney D–Lindenhurst, held a hearing on January 16 to examine the link between New York's ivory sales and elephant extinction in the wild. The Assembly hearing included testimony from representatives of Tanzania and Botswana, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa which has resulted in a 76 percent decline in elephant population since 2002.
In addition, Sweeney voiced his displeasure that New York is one of the largest markets for ivory sales. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found the alarming levels of elephant ivory poaching in recent years proves the increased involvement of organized crime.
"Wildlife trafficking is increasingly associated with rebel and terrorist groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army and Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda terrorist cell in East Africa," said Tuvako N. Manongi, Ambassador for the United Republic of Tanzania.
The Elephant Action League, an independent organization looking to fight elephant exploitation and wildlife crime, estimates that Shabaab's monthly income from ivory at between $200,000 and $600,000.
"New York state must close the market that is driving the elephant to extinction and helping finance terrorism," Sweeney said.