Pres. Barack Obama has signed an executive order aimed at combating wildlife trafficking in Africa, particularly the sale of rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks.
The State Department will provide $10 million to train and assist African authorities fighting the illegal poaching and selling of animals and animal parts.
The World Wildlife Fund says close to 30,000 elephants are slaughtered annually for their ivory. Ivory estimated to weigh more than 23 metric tons - a figure that represents 2,500 elephants - was seized in the 13 largest seizures of illegal ivory in 2011.
"Poaching and trafficking is threatening Africa’s wildlife," said Obama. "Today I issued a new Executive Order to better organize U.S. government efforts in this fight so that we can cooperate with the Tanzanian government and others. This includes an additional millions of dollars to help countries across the regions to build their capacity to meet this challenge.”
“The entire world has a stake in making sure we preserve Africa’s beauty for future generations.”
Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates, the executive order says.
"The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations."
The World Wildlife Fund called Obama's action "groundbreaking."
“President Obama’s commitment to help stop the global crime wave that is emptying the continent’s forests and savannas is welcome news. It gives a critical boost for everyone involved in fighting wildlife trafficking—from rangers on the ground to local conservation groups to decision-makers around the globe,” said Carter Roberts, President & CEO of WWF-US.
WWF says wildlife crime has direct links to regional conflicts, national security and even terrorism.