By Juliet Eilperin
Hillary Rodham Clinton has agreed to take up the public fight of saving African elephants, who are being slaughtered in large numbers to supply the growing demand for ivory in China and other Asian countries.
Clinton, who met privately with representatives from a dozen environmental groups and National Geographic at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo on Monday, pledged to 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.
Cristian Samper, WCS president and CEO, said in an interview that elephant poaching has reached such a crisis point that the world’s leading conservation groups are launching a coordinated strategy to address the problem.
Clinton agreed to “take some very specific steps, including using her political contacts with heads of state in trying to raise awareness about this issue,” Samper said. “This is an issue that needs to be elevated, not just in terms of public awareness, but particularly with the political leaders in other countries.”
As the demand for ivory has grown in Asia — where the ivory from a tusk can sell for $1,000 a pound — the poaching of African elephants has exploded. Roughly 30,000 African elephants were killed illegally in 2012, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the largest number in 20 years.
There were roughly 1.2 million elephants in Africa in 1980, compared to roughly 420,000 last year. More....