Target: Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy
Goal: Ban the use and sell of elephant leather and make it a crime equally punishable as the trafficking of ivory.
Elephant leather is a little spoken of but easily acquired product. Despite strengthening regulations and bans on the sell of ivory, elephant leather has seen no such restrictions. The fact that elephant leather is legal to trade is a glaring and problematic loophole in regulations of the Convention of International Treaty of Endangered Species. This is made possible by exploiting the stipulation that all leather must be purchased from sellers who obtained the leather from legally-culled elephants. Of course, the leather manufacturers will say their leather was only legally obtained. Still, with elephants listed as an endangered species, it’s no surprise these “culls” are looked upon dubiously.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, elephant leather is not regulated as ivory is because there is no information indicating that leather sales have an impact on elephant populations. This is incredibly hard, if not impossible to believe, especially with leather sales rapidly rising. Information from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Humane Society International shows that the leather trade does have a large impact on elephant populations.
From 2003 to 2012, the U.S. was a chief importer of non-ivory elephant products. This includes 33,184 skins and 57,844 small leather products. Statistics also show a marked increase in the number of these items being imported from a yearly average of 797 to 2,123. That is a huge increase, and that skin is coming from hunted elephants. The demand isn’t as high as ivory, but it is just as much of a problem that needs to be addressed before it worsens.
Urge Congress to act now before the elephant leather trade becomes as much a problem as ivory.
Dear Representatives Pelosi and McCarthy,
Despite attempts to curve the ivory trade, elephant leather is quickly on the rise in its place. While some organizations may claim that the leather trade has no impact on current elephant populations, that just isn’t true. In the years between 2003 and 2012, the average number of non-ivory products being imported into the U.S. rose from 797 a year to 2,123 a year. That’s a huge leap in 10 years, and with elephant populations consistently decreasing, it is bad news for those few who remain. All of this is made possible due to lax regulations in the Convention of International Treaty of Endangered Species concerning non-ivory products from elephants.
At the rate elephants are declining, it is theorized that they will be extinct by 2020. Please, put these animals above insidious traders, and regardless of the loophole being abused, outlaw the trade of elephant leather in the U.S. Don’t allow elephants to disappear from the world because of people’s greed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Elephantlisteningproject.org