Our press conference at the National Press Club
To save elephants we have a three-prong strategy - limit the demand of ivory and elephant skin, relocate elephants from areas where they are in danger to safe zones, and build sanctuaries where elephants can be safe and get the care they need so they can live their lives as elephants should. You have been a strong supporter of saving elephants and especially in helping us further our efforts to build a state-of-the-art sanctuary in Myanmar where we will be able to provide continuous safety, care, and support to thousands of timber elephants that are in jeopardy of being slaughtered for their skin and ivory. We will be travelling there the last week of July to pick locations for the sanctuary.
But in addition to our ongoing sanctuary efforts in Myanmar, we have beefed up our efforts in limiting the demand for ivory and other elephant parts which is critical to our overall goal of bringing an end to the senseless slaughter of these majestic creatures. As part of those efforts, we are working to limit the impact of President Trump’s pro elephant hunting policies. Trump’s decision to allow for the import of elephant trophies into the U.S. has had a tremendous impact on increasing the demand to kill elephants by wealthy trophy hunters.
To end this, the first step was to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Interior for all documents relating to the reversal of the importation of elephant trophies policy outlined in a March 1, 2018 memorandum from the United States Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service. We also requested all documents relating to the establishment of the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), announced on November 8, 2017 by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and documents relating to the involvement by President Donald J. Trump and members of his family, including Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, in the selection of members of the IWCC and the reversal of the Fish and Wildlife Service policy on importation of elephant trophies.
The IWCC’s charter demonstrates the Council’s mandate to promote hunting as the primary international wildlife conservation strategy, which is inconsistent with past U.S. wildlife conservation efforts, and runs contrary to expert research on the issue. We are opposed to this approach based on strong evidence that the protection of wildlife and the creation of a humane economy of wildlife ecotourism is a far superior conservation strategy that not only benefits elephants and other wildlife, but also promotes stability and prosperity in regions where wildlife is threatened. This is the foundation for our efforts in Myanmar which you have generously supported.
Here are some key quotes from the press conference we held announcing the filing of the FOIA request:
William Kristol, Board member of The Elephant Project and Editor of The Weekly Standard stated, “Efforts pursued by The Elephant Project to end illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking while fostering a humane economy of ecotourism and research will help bring jobs and prosperity to challenged regions and promote growth and stability. Unfortunately, The Trump Administration appears more inclined to serve the interests of the big game trophy-hunting lobby and Trump family associates rather than threatened wildlife species and U.S. national security interests.”
“The Trump Administration is reversing hard fought gains made over the past several decades in the fight to protect elephants,” stated Elephant Project Founder Dane Waters. “The United States had been a leader in the world’s wildlife conservation efforts, but we are now abdicating that leadership role by prioritizing the wishes of trophy hunters above the preservation of elephants, a keystone species that is essential to the ecosystem. The protection of elephants and other threatened wildlife is a test of moral leadership and character. With these proposed policy changes, the current administration is failing that test.”
"It is deeply disappointing to see the Trump Administration sanction the senseless slaughter of animals," stated The Elephant Project Advisory Board member Joe Trippi. "The vast majority of Americans — Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike — oppose big game trophy hunting of elephants and lions. The Administration should respect the will of the American people and protect these majestic animals."
“Transparency is essential for democracy, including at the Department of the Interior,” asserted Adam M. Roberts, senior advisor to The Elephant Project. “The plight of African elephants remains fragile across their range, and if the Trump Administration is going to renew America’s involvement in elephant slaughter—in the name of sport—the American people have a right to know what influence was levied to lead to such a fatal and reckless decision.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a supporter of The Elephant Project, said it best: "We need to stop killing these animals -- take a photo, not a shot."
Our FOIA request aims to shed light on the selection process for members of the IWCC, and whether qualified candidates who are opposed to big game hunting as a conservation strategy were denied membership on the Council. This will help us build the case to demand the dissolution of the IWCC which will also help put pressure on President Trump to reimpose the ban on bringing elephant trophies into the U.S. – which will go a long way in helping end the demand for elephant trophies.
Your donations continue to support our efforts in Myanmar which are critical to saving Myanmar’s timber elephants. But only by executing all parts of our three-prong strategy can we bring an end to the senseless slaughter of these animals and with your continued support we will prevail.
Thank you for your support!
Dane Waters at press conference
Joe Trippi at press conference
Adam Roberts at our press conference
Bill Kristol at our press conference