Silver Spring, Maryland, Aug. 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is proud to announce that AZA and its program, the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (USWTA), have partnered with the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) and joined the pledge to conserve elephants by confronting the illegal ivory trade.
The surging demand for ivory tusks has driven poaching to unsustainable levels, with tens of thousands of elephants killed in Africa each year, according to the Elephant Protection Initiative. Between 2002 and 2013, Central Africa's forest elephant population declined by two-thirds, with heavy poaching continuing to this day. At this rate, forest elephants could be extinct in the wild within a decade.
“AZA and its members have long been leaders in protecting elephants through research and fieldwork, educating millions of guests, and supporting relevant legislation,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “Joining the EPI signifies our commitment to saving species and builds on the millions of dollars AZA and its member facilities have already dedicated to support elephant conservation.”
By joining EPI, AZA and USWTA support the calls for immediate and longer-term funding for the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan. The plan calls for domestic ivory markets to be closed, for all stockpiles to be put beyond economic use, and for a moratorium on any consideration of future international ivory trade for at least 10 years and after that until African elephant populations are no longer threatened.
“Wildlife trafficking is one of the largest threats facing African elephants, with an estimated 96 elephants per day being killed solely for their ivory,” said AZA Senior Advisor on Wildlife Trafficking Sara Walker. “AZA and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance recognize the immediate need to address the illegal ivory trade to assure the future of these magnificent animals.”
AZA-accredited facilities provided $10.5 million in support of elephant conservation projects over the last five years. In 2013, the AZA joined The Wildlife Conservation Society as a partner in the 96 Elephants campaign – an effort focused on securing a U.S. moratorium …
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