08 September 2012

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Your reporting on the illegal ivory trade (“Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits,” “The Price of Ivory” series, front page, Sept. 4) is a chilling reminder of just how high the stakes have become today for elephants in the wild.

Our experience on the ground confirms your reporting that this trade is increasingly tied to organized crime. Money for greater local enforcement is now the most pressing need to combat poachers and the armed wildlife trade syndicates to which they are increasingly linked.

This holds true whether it is in the Democratic Republic of Congo or right here in New York City, where Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, recently prosecuted two jewelers selling illegally obtained ivory with a combined retail value of more than $2 million.

Unless we start taking wildlife crime seriously and allocate the resources necessary to tackle a sophisticated and well-financed global criminal network, elephants and other charismatic species will continue their tragic slide into oblivion.

Jeju, South Korea, Sept. 4, 2012

The writer is vice president for species conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Note from KBJ: I take it that rats are not a "charismatic species."