Newswise — New York – Nov. 26, 2013 – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has joined The Wildlife Conservation Society as a partner on the recently launched 96 Elephants Campaign – an effort focused on securing a U.S. moratorium on illegal ivory; bolstering protection of African elephants; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.
96 Elephants was named for the number of elephants gunned down each day for their ivory. The Wildlife Conservation Society launched the campaign in September in support of the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) commitment to end the crisis facing Africa’s elephants.
“In order to stop the killing, we need to stop the demand for ivory everywhere including the U.S.,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “The partnership between WCS and AZA will bring together resources, experts, and institutions that will raise awareness of the crisis in Africa that will stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand.” Said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo: “Zoogoers have a keen awareness of, and interest in, conservation. They will join the fight to protect wildlife in peril. By communicating this tragic story to the millions of people who visit AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, we will be able to rally the public to help save elephants from the organized slaughter of the illegal ivory trade. This partnership will result in a formidable army that will champion these magnificent animals.”
AZA will partner with WCS’s 96 Elephants to help raise awareness and drive action on behalf of saving elephants. 96 Elephants educates and engages the public through a series of activities including online petitions and letter writing campaigns enhanced through social media.
Said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy: “The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is committed to partnering with the Wildlife Conservation Society on the 96 Elephants campaign. AZA-accredited zoos connect people with elephants and engage them in conservation issues that elephants face in their natural ranges, and this mission could not be more urgent as we work to combat poaching and the illegal ivory trade. Most importantly, through the 96 Elephants campaign, millions of zoo visitors can take action to stop the demand for ivory here in the United States and around the world.”
There are currently 166 African elephants and 142 Asian elephants in the AZA Elephant Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which means that there are more elephants killed in four days than exist in all of the AZA-accredited zoos combined.
Throughout Africa, elephant numbers have plummeted by 76 percent since 1980 due largely to the demand of elephant ivory with an estimated 35,000 slaughtered by poachers in 2012 alone.
The 96 Elephants campaign:• Bolsters elephant protection in the wild by increasing support for park guards, intelligence networks, and government operations in the last great protected areas for elephants throughout the Congo Basin and East Africa. (WCS recently launched elephant protection programs in four new target sites: Ivindo National Park in Gabon; Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Ruaha and Katavi National Parks in Tanzania; and Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique. In these four sites alone, 44,000 elephants are at immediate risk.)
• Funds high-tech tools in the field ranging from drones and sophisticated remote cameras that track poachers in real-time, to specially trained sniffer dogs to find smuggled ivory in ports and trading hubs.
• Engages the public through a series of actions including online petitions and letter writing campaigns enhanced through social media to support a U.S. moratorium, increase funding, and spread the word about demand and consumption of ivory. WCS will educate public audiences about the link between the purchase of ivory products and the elephant poaching crisis, and support global moratoria and other policies that protect elephants.
96 Elephants dovetails with the CGI plan: “Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants,” which includes other NGO partners and nation leaders. Leaders from seven African nations are calling for other countries to adopt trade moratoria on all commercial ivory imports, exports and domestic sales of ivory products until African elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching. The partnership focuses on stopping the killing through increases in enforcement and improved management at 48 sites across Africa that contain two thirds of the continents’ elephant population.
To learn more about the elephant crisis and how to help eradicate the demand for ivory, visit www.96elephants.org.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on earth.If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org.
About AZA: Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and six other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.