On July 29, 2015, gunshots were reported in the Kenyan wilderness. The next morning, five adult elephants were found slaughtered; their tusks removed. A baby elephant, just seven months old, was found by local wildlife advocates the following day, alone and scared, but alive. Baby Losoito was the only one left alive by poachers after they massacred his entire family.
Losoito was deeply traumatized by the loss of his family, and he developed diarrhea that left him dehydrated and malnourished. Tragically, the baby elephant died on August 2nd, just a few days after he was rescued, despite the best efforts of the keepers who cared for him.
This heartbreaking story (and thousands like it) is the result of human greed for ivory, fueled by an illegal market that continues to thrive in California. The slaughter of African elephants must end, and baby Losoito's story is another tragic example of why CLCV is working to pass a full ban on ivory sales in California.
In June, the state Assembly passed AB 96 by an overwhelming majority – thanks in large part to thousands of messages from elephant advocates including thousands of CLCV members. Legislators are currently at home in their districts during the recess, but the final Senate votes are just around the corner. Key lawmakers could waver under pressure from opponents -- like the powerful National Rifle Association -- who care more about the ability to sell and trade ivory than they do about elephants.
We're not backing down. Here at CLCV, we've identified several lawmakers who will cast the deciding votes on AB 96. With our members' help, we're ramping up a highly-targeted campaign to persuade them to stand up for elephants. This includes generating thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls from their constituents in support of the ivory ban.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and co-author Senator Ricardo Lara chose the bill number AB 96 to remind their colleagues and all of us that on average, 96 African elephants are slaughtered for their ivory every single day...that’s one elephant every 15 minutes. That statistic may seem outrageous, but it's not hard to believe – especially now, knowing that baby Losoito's family of five adult elephants were slaughtered by poachers in a matter of minutes.
California owes it to baby Losoito and other African elephants to lead the way on banning ivory. A stunning report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found up to 90% of the ivory for sale in Los Angeles and 80% in San Francisco is likely illegal under California law, meaning that the vast majority of ivory being sold in California comes from recently killed elephants.
Because ivory products are altered to look like antiques, allowing ivory trade of any kind only fuels the market for illegal poaching. California has long been a national leader in passing laws that protect threatened and endangered species. Again, our state's leadership is particularly critical because California is the second largest retail market in the country for illegal ivory.
Here at CLCV, we're honoring baby Losoito by speaking out about the elephant slaughter and the bill to ban ivory sales in California. The illegal market for ivory right here in California is the second-largest in the nation (after New York), and it's funneling heaps of money from our state all the way to poachers in Africa. It's downright sickening to know that Losoito's death could be a consequence of ivory dealing right here in our own backyard.
California is known nationally and globally for its leadership on conservation issues, and we can lead again to protect elephants. Stay tuned for the Senate vote on this important bill.