By: Sam Jojola

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Introduction

In 2011, the world’s population reached 7 billion and is now 7.6 billion.  Many stressed ecosystems leave larger mammals vulnerable like elephants, giraffes and both African rhino species. Serious trophy hunters seek quarry like black maned lions and rare African elephant tuskers.  Genetic viability can be impacted coupled with demand for body parts in traditional medicine.

Widespread corruption plagues Zimbabwe and South Africa with little or no jail time for most offenders.  My 2003 investigation on allegations of illegal lion hunting in Zimbabwe revealed their poorly written laws prevented federal prosecution of suspect U.S. trophy hunters, including a similar instance like Cecil the Lion.

Lesson in extinction

In the early 1800’s, Passenger Pigeon numbers were several billion and by 1900 none survived in the wild.  History does repeat itself with extinction.

Larger Species Vulnerable

Lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and hippo parts are exploited in the global online black market of illegal wildlife.  Large social media companies profit from the illicit wildlife trade of rhino horn, elephant ivory, including lion and tiger claws.  Stephen Kohn, renowned whistleblower attorney documented extensive illicit trade through sting operations detailed in this month’s WIRED Magazine.  These social media companies are reportedly at the center of the global trade in endangered species.

Trafficking in illegal wildlife parts is akin to taking a stolen vehicle and selling the parts individually that are worth more than the whole.

Growth of illegal wildlife trade

The illegal wildlife trade estimate ranged from $10 billion annually in 2011 to $23 billion in 2014 and now $115 billion after a recent month long crackdown in 92 countries.

Overnight parcel shipping venues have been a platform for decades that support trafficking a host of illegal wildlife parts and products including live reptiles shipped overnight from around the globe.

Wildlife Crime supports Transnational Criminal Syndicates and Terrorism

In 2015, my colleague, Bryan Christy in Nat Geo’s “Warlords of Ivory” chronicled the elephant ivory trade to transnational criminal syndicates and suggested evidence of ivory trafficking used to forge links between several African based terrorist groups.  Other independent reports support his assessment.

Think Globally Act Locally

With Jane Goodall’s support of SB-1487 and the supporting evidence of 21st century impacts on the illegal wildlife trade, California legislators have an opportunity to make a difference with this key legislation in a proactive unified effort.

Thank you all kindly for the opportunity to speak in support of this critical legislation.

Sam Jojola

 

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