[2 Letters to Editor\
To the Editor:
Re “Limits on Ivory Sales, Meant to Protect Elephants, Set Off Wide Concerns” (news article, March 21):
It is important to understand the wider consequences of the ivory trade. We are on the brink of losing significant elephant populations in the wild. Last year alone, more than 30,000 elephants were killed in Africa. Behind each piece of ivory — every tusk, trinket and souvenir — is a dead elephant.
And illegal ivory is making its way into United States markets. There are too many loopholes in the existing system for American citizens to feel secure that ivory they buy or sell is not connected to the current slaughter in Africa.
But this is about more than elephants. Organized crime has moved into ivory in a big way. Global wildlife crime, estimated at $10 billion annually, is increasingly controlled by the same criminal networks smuggling arms, drugs and humans. Left unaddressed, wildlife crime will continue to flourish, fueling regional conflicts and even terrorism.
By limiting ivory sales, the United States is sending an unequivocal message that it will not tolerate the senseless slaughter of wildlife and the global criminal syndicates it supports.
Washington, March 21, 2014
The writer is senior vice president for wildlife conservation at the World Wildlife Fund.
To the Editor:
Your article about new federal rules on domestic ivory sales may leave an impression with some readers of overzealous conservationists.
In fact, President Obama’s recently announced strategy to confront a global wildlife trafficking epidemic has no interest in targeting owners of clearly authenticated antique ivory. What it does attempt is to end the use of the legal market as a cover for the sale of ivory from elephants killed as part of a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise claiming one elephant every 15 minutes.
We can exempt antiques with small amounts of ivory and protect the legal transport of ivory not for sale (including by orchestras and museums). But make no mistake. The booming illegal ivory market is driving elephants toward extinction. The United States must do its part to close it.
JOHN F. CALVELLI
Bronx, March 24, 2014
The writer is executive vice president, public affairs, for the Wildlife Conservation Society and director of the 96 Elephants campaign.