(New Orleans, La.) - Audubon Nature Institute officials traveled to the state capitol on Tuesday, Aug. 12 to hand over nearly 12,000 signatures on a petition advocating for stricter regulations on ivory sales in the United States - part of a worldwide effort to save African elephants from extinction.
The signatures were submitted to representatives of Governor Bobby Jindal, who like other governors across the nation, is being asked to support efforts to halt the mass slaughter of the world's largest land animals.
The delivery of the signatures was part of World Elephant Day activities designed to raise money and to educate the public about the link between ivory consumption and the staggering death toll of African elephants.
In 2012, poachers in Africa killed an estimated 35,000 elephants - an average of 96 elephants each day that represents the worst mass slaughter since the international ivory trade was banned in 1989. That grim statistic prompted the creation of 96Elephants.org, which is dedicated to uniting a wide range of organizations to coordinate and leverage their collective influence, constituencies and resources to save African elephants from extinction.
On Tuesday, the Audubon Nature Institute delegation presented the governor with 11,951 signatures, which exceeded by more than 2,000 the goal of 9,600 signatures established as part of a collective effort with the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Audubon group was led by Audubon Zoo vice president and general curator Joel Hamilton, who has called the elephant slaughter a tragedy.
"By backing the 96Elephants effort, we hope to bring attention to the recent increase in demand for ivory that has resulted in the tragic spike in African elephant deaths,'' Hamilton said. "By working with lawmakers, we also hope to close some of the loopholes in existing ivory trade laws.''
To learn more about the 96.elephants initiative, go to http://www.auduboninstitute.org/96-elephants.
BY THE NUMBERS: THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT CRISIS
- Across Africa, the elephant population has plummeted by 76 percent since 1980 due largely to the demand of elephant ivory.
- In 1980, there were an estimated 1.2 million African elephants; today there are less than 420,000.
- An estimated 35,000 elephants were slaughtered by poachers in 2012, an average of 96 elephants every day.
- The illicit wildlife trade is valued at more than $7 billion worldwide, ranking behind only trafficking in drugs, human beings, oil and counterfeiting.
- 96Elephants hopes to deliver 960,000 signatures to governors nationwide.
Audubon Nature Institute is a 501(c)3 not for profit that operates a family of museums and parks dedicated to nature. These New Orleans facilities include: Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Entergy IMAX® Theatre, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and Audubon Nature Institute Foundation. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.