Published On: Fri, May 30th, 2014

Chelsea Clinton discusses battle to end elephant poaching

“When my mom left the government, we knew this was one of the areas we wanted to work on together,” Chelsea Clinton told OUTSIDE in an interview. Clinton, vice chairwoman of the Clinton Foundation, is featured in a Q&A piece in the magazine’s June issue, currently on newsstands.

Video Screen Shot/  Daniel Mietchen via Wikimedia Commons

Video Screen Shot/ Daniel Mietchen via Wikimedia Commons

The widespread poaching of African elephants, fueled by demand for ivory in China and ineffective regulation, has led to alarming population losses—from 1.2 million in 1980 to only 500,000 this year. Last September, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) launched an $80 million effort to unite foreign governments and NGOs to help protect the mammals, in part by capitalizing on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic experience. So OUTSIDE sat down with Chelsea Clinton to check in on the early progress.

Select quotes from the interview are below:

On Hillary Clinton’s involvement: “She had relationships with many of the leaders who impact the demand or trafficking. We thought that, through CGI, we could bring together those people—governments, NGOs on the ground, foundations that can help fund the work—to really make a coherent, coordinated effort.”

On the roles of Al Qaeda, Joseph Kony and other terrorist groups: “When my mom was secretary of state, one of the things that drew her attention to this was the fact that the Lord’s Resistance Army and Joseph Kony, the Al-Shabaab and the janjaweed in West Africa, Al Qaeda in North Africa, and many of the rebel and terrorist groups in Central Africa are trafficking not only guns and humans, but in ivory.”

On President Obama’s efforts and the United States’ moral authority: “Most of the ivory in the world is sold in China and Vietnam, though also here in the United States. We worked with the president’s taskforce on wildlife trafficking, and we’re thrilled with the policy that emerged from that, which is to ban all commercial imports of African ivory into this country. I think that’s an important step—not only in helping stop the demand, but also for our moral authority.”

On first learning about the crisis: “In 2012, we realized that we’d been unaware of the crisis—similar to what it had been in the 1980s—and we were both sheepish about that, because we think we’re pretty plugged-in people.”

On China, former NBA star Yao Ming, and the progress being made: “There’s been tremendous progress, especially on the demand side, though we certainly don’t deserve credit for much of it. In China, influential CEOs pledged to no longer give ivory as gifts, and Yao Ming has been a tremendous champion in his work with WildAid, which has run a number of campaigns in China that seem to be making a difference.”

On seeing the impact of anti-poaching efforts on the ground: “I saw an SMS platform that lets local villagers report poachers. That’s been successful—not necessarily in stopping poaching, but in limiting and deterring it. They used to find multiple carcasses of elephants that had been poached by the same group. Now, with this early-alert system, the rangers are able to deploy. They may not be able to save that first elephant, but they can save the second or third.”

OUTSIDE’s Q&A with Chelsea Clinton appears online and in the magazine’s June issue, on newsstands now.

About OUTSIDE:  OUTSIDE is America’s leading active lifestyle brand. Since 1977, OUTSIDE has covered travel, sports, adventure, health, and fitness, as well as the personalities, the environment, and the style and culture of the world Outside. The OUTSIDE family includes OUTSIDE magazine, the only magazine to win three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, The Outside Buyer’s Guides, Outside Online, Outside Television, Outside Events, Outside+ for the iPad, Outside tablet edition, Outside Books, and now Outside GO, a revolutionary, 21st-century adventure-travel company. Visit us online and on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

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