July 13, 1999
Mr. Bruce Babbitt
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240
Re: CITES Convention - Ivory Trade Debated
Dear Secretary Babbitt:
I was pleased to learn that when the subject of re-opening the trade of ivory was debated at the CITES convention, the U.S. delegation spoke out against resuming this practice.
There is no sadder sight than evidence that ivory has been poached-decaying corpses of elephants whose tusks along with hunks of their faces have been hurriedly hacked off by poachers for money. Such images, captured all too frequently even with a ban on ivory trade, are a sad reflection of what greed can and will do. Despite the best of intentions and claims that only existing, "surplus" ivory stock will be traded, I feel certain that greed will win out and with the resuming of trade, the poaching of elephant tusks and trafficking of ivory will escalate making illegally harvested ivory that much harder to track. Further, it opens the door for those who would propose legal trade of newly obtained ivory.
Secretary Babbitt, I have always had a special place in my heart for these giant but gentle creatures. They have a life-span similar to that of humans, demonstrate high intelligence, exist in close familial herds, and communicate in exceptional ways. To allow these down animals to be cut down in the primes of their lives for a few feet of ivory is a travesty, as I am sure, based on the U.S. response to this proposal so far, you are already aware.
Permitting the trade ivory-even under the guise of dispensing "surplus" ivory-is no less than putting out a death warrant on these magnificent creatures by those who would seek to cash in, and I am glad the U.S. has opposed it. I want to thank you and the delegation for standing up against this reckless and shameful proposition and encourage you (and the delegates) to do likewise-stand firm in your resolve not to re-open trade-at the next CITES convention in April 2000. I would also encourage you to take every opportunity to be outspoken on this subject-opposing the ivory trade.
Thank you for granting me a few moments of your valuable time.