By Judith McHale, David J. Hayes [Letter to Editor\
Re “The Wrong Way to Protect Elephants” (Op-Ed, March 27):
Godfrey Harris and Daniel Stiles suggest that commerce in ivory should continue and indeed that more national ivory stocks should be sold rather than destroyed in the hope that increasing the supply will reduce prices and demand. History shows otherwise.
In 1989, the United States and other countries banned commercial imports of ivory, and elephant killings declined dramatically. Recently, however, loopholes and ill-advised sales of national ivory stocks reopened the door, and now criminal syndicates are flooding the market with illegal ivory, taking advantage of ambiguity and mixed messages in the market.
With an estimated 35,000 elephants killed last year alone, we can no longer afford any ambiguity. Only by slamming the door again on commercial trade in ivory will elephants stand a chance against the criminal syndicates that are using ivory poaching to fuel arms sales and terrorists.
The National Wildlife Trafficking Strategy, issued last month, lays out a comprehensive approach, including helping African countries to stop poaching, directing international law enforcement efforts at the kingpins who are behind the effort, and using diplomatic and other means to reduce demand in consuming countries.
But it all must start with a clear message that commercial ivory trade is no longer acceptable in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
Stanford, Calif., March 27, 2014
The writers are chairwoman and vice chairman of the President’s Wildlife Trafficking Advisory Council.