Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) has introduced legislation that would impose trade sanctions on countries that facilitate ivory trafficking.
According to the White House National Security Council, ivory from elephant tusks contributes between $7 billion and $10 billion a year to the global illegal trade and funds organized crime and terrorist organizations.
"As many as 40,000 elephants were slaughtered in 2013 alone for their tusks and over 1,000 park rangers have been killed trying to protect endangered wildlife. The illegal wildlife trade funds the operations of gun, drug and human trafficking crime syndicates," said DeFazio, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
"It also funds extremely dangerous terrorist groups that threaten regional stability in Africa and national security in the United States. We need to choke off the access to the market. My legislation sends a strong message-- if countries permit this illegal trafficking, there will be economic consequences," said DeFazio.
DeFazio's legislation, the Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range (TUSKER) Act,was named in honor of Satao, a large-tusked (or "tusker") elephant that was recently butchered by poachers in Kenya.
According to the UN Security Council, a number of terrorist organizations are funded in part by the sale of elephant ivory and other stolen natural resources. They include, Joseph Kony and the Lord's resistance Army in Uganda, the Janjaweed in Darfur, and the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a June terrorist attack that killed 58 people in Kenya, as as well as the deadly mall attack last year. It is reported to receive as much as 40 percent of its financing from the sale of illegal ivory and other poached wildlife.
The legislation is supported by many major international wildlife and conservation groups, including Born Free, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the World Wildlife Fund, and Humane Society International.
"Every 15 minutes, a poacher kills an elephant for its ivory. It's a material that nobody—except for elephants—needs, and this new legislation from Rep. DeFazio is an important step toward ending the senseless violence and making the world safer for people and animals," said Jeff Flocken, Regional Director, North America, International Fund for Animal Welfare