According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, illegal trade in African elephant ivory is a major threat to elephant populations in Africa, particularly in the hardest hit poaching regions of West and Central Africa, where the ivory in this investigation originated. African elephants are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (“CITES”), an international treaty that entered into force in 1975 to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct due to international trade. The African elephant is also listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The global demand for elephant ivory led to devastating declines in the number of these giant animals, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite international efforts to control the ivory trade and stop the decline of elephant populations, prices and demand remain high, causing continued elephant poaching and illegal ivory finding its way into international and domestic markets.
Recently, the government seized one ton of elephant ivory from a Philadelphia antiques owner named Victor Gorden who will be serving a 30 month sentence for ivory smuggling. As a message to the illegal trade community, the ivory will be crushed in New York City's Times Square on June 19, 2015. In this segment of The Organic View Radio Show, Gavin Shire, Chief of Public Affairs, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will talk to host, June Stoyer about this historic event.