By John Kerry
Today, in Denver, the Department of the Interior is destroying the United States' entire stock of confiscated contraband ivory -- totaling nearly six tons.
With this action, the United States is sending a simple but powerful message to the sadistic poachers who kill elephants and other animals, and to all the traffickers who transport illicit cargo and the consumers who purchase these illicit goods: "You cannot and must not mistake our seriousness."
We're not in this fight alone. We are building on the work of Kenya, Gabon, and the Philippines, which have destroyed their ivory stocks in recent years. We encourage other countries to take a strong stand against wildlife trafficking by destroying their ivory stockpiles.
But make no mistake: The world needs to do more. Time is not on our side.
One night last year, American scientists at the Dzangha-Bai reserve in the Central African Republic were forced to abandon a long-term elephant research site in the middle of the night due to instability in the area. When they returned the following day, the scientists discovered an unspeakable scene: The herd of elephants they had observed for decades was dead and tusk-less. Criminals had shot the defenseless elephants from the very research platform where they had been studied for so many years.
This is not an isolated incident. When my wife Teresa and I visited a wildlife preserve and went on safari in 2007, I heard tragic story after story of similar episodes. Last year, we held the Foreign Relations Committee's first ever hearing on wildlife trafficking to underscore the extent of the crisis.
Slaughters of wildlife have grown exponentially. The scale, pace, and sophistication of elephant and rhino poaching are accelerating at a devastating pace. Not only are these majestic animals disappearing before us, as poachers grow in sophistication and firepower, this explosion in trafficking undermines the stability and security of range states, and imperils those whose livelihoods depend on these great creatures and ecosystems.
We do not have the luxury of time. We must act urgently and raise public awareness. More....