Stanford, Calif., February 11, 2014 – President Obama took a major step today in his continuing initiative to combat the ongoing massive killing of elephants, rhinos and other wildlife, which is decimating populations of these iconic creatures. Acting under the Executive Order that he signed last July in Tanzania, the President today released a National Strategy to address this threat to economic and national security. In his capacity as Vice Chair of the President’s Advisory Council, which was established under the President’s Executive Order, David J. Hayes—Visiting Distinguished Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School—provided input into the National Strategy that was released today. Hayes is currently working with students at Stanford Law School and with other Stanford University graduate students to develop recommendations for the Council by the end of March to help implement the new National Strategy.
Hayes, who drew attention to this issue while serving as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, is continuing to focus on the international wildlife trafficking crisis. In fact, Hayes recently wrote an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times about this subject.
Armed gangs, organized by sophisticated criminal syndicates, slaughtered more than 30,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos in Africa last year alone, fueling a billion-dollar illegal black market that is corrupting governments and funding terrorist organizations.
“The President’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking lays out a comprehensive plan to stop the killings that are destabilizing governments, financing terrorists and threatening the existence of some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species,” Hayes commented. “At current rates of killing, African elephants and rhinos could disappear from the wild within 10 years.”
Hayes noted that one of the most important deliverables under the National Strategy is a commitment to close legal loopholes and ban the sale of ivory products in the U.S.
“Consumers need a clear signal that ivory trade is unacceptable,” Hayes said. “My hope is that U.S. leadership on this issue will persuade other nations to also take steps to shut down all ivory trading.”
Hayes also commended the Administration in calling for a public/private partnership to raise awareness of the killings and reduce the burgeoning consumer demand for ivory products and rhino horn.
“We need the cooperation of leading companies from the airline, shipping, tourist, Internet and retail industries to help end wildlife trafficking. The private sector has a key role to play in drawing attention to the crisis and in helping to ensure that it is not unwittingly aiding in the illegal trafficking of wildlife products,” Hayes remarked.
Hayes served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior from 2009 until 2013, where he was Chief Operating Officer and second-in-command to the Interior Secretary. He is currently teaching a course at Stanford Law School entitled “Wildlife Trafficking: Ending the Scourge.”
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