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Testimony For SB-1487 Iconic African Species Protection Act

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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

 

Fighting Wildlife Crime amid Bureaucracy and Solutions

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Sam Jojola

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Background

“This article was originally published for World Animal News in November, 2015 and titled “Wildlife Crimes: Why Is It So Difficult to Enforce Laws”. This is an updated version that includes reference to a 2016 GAO report detailing the shortcomings and successes of combating wildlife trafficking. It often seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are some positive changes, but they are slow.”

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Global Anti-Poaching Act of 2015

The passage of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494) through the House on June 25, 2015 was long overdue and very encouraging news for wildlife law enforcement. It will greatly assist in addressing the rapid expansion of wildlife criminal syndicates and terrorist groups globally. Finally, after decades of “paralysis by analysis” there is some political motivation in the U.S. to deal with the exponential growth of wildlife crime here and around the world. Why has it taken so long?

The most recent GAO report dated September, 2016 titled Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Agencies are taking a range of actions but the task force lacks performance targets for assessing progress: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/679968.pdf

Perhaps there will be another GAO report this year to show measurable progress.

Layers of bureaucracy and political meddling

When one examines the primary agency responsible for investigating wildlife crimes on the federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS/OLE) has been and is the lead entity to do so. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is primarily a biological entity under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior that oversees a host of at least nine (9) agencies, like the U.S. Park Service (USPS), the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to name a few. The USFWS/OLE is just one of fifteen (15) National programs managed by USFWS. In essence many layers of government within the Department of the Interior which is not a law enforcement entity like the Department of Justice. Other law enforcement agencies like the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE, and the Secret Service, are not under the umbrella of a non-law enforcement entity that can sometimes run political interference and impede wildlife investigations and protection. More

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