• Mr. Speaker, The Wildlife Conservation Society is doing great work to save wildlife and wild places.
  • The public knows more about wildlife today than they have at any other point in history.
  • New technology like Go-Pro cameras can be put on top of birds to track their migration patterns and see how they deal with their young in the nest.
  • Scientists can dive deeper into the oceans than ever before and are discovering new species that have not been identified.
  • But with all this knowledge and fancy technology, in 2015 animals are still becoming extinct.
  • The situation for elephants and rhinos is bad.
  • The elephant population in Tanzania has dropped by 60 percent in just the last 5 years.
  • A total of only five northern white rhinos are left in the world today.
  • A big reason why is money. The black-market price of ivory in Africa is over $1,000 per pound.
  • Rhino horn is now worth about $27,000 per pound. That's twice the value of gold and platinum and more than cocaine or diamonds.
  • When a person lives on less than $2 a day like many of the poachers do, that's a lot of money.
  • Poachers are willing to risk getting caught or even shot because the payday is just too big.
  • One rhino horn is enough for them to support their whole family for a year.
  • That might be why some locals in the community refer to ``rhinos'' simply as ``billions''.
  • In all, the illegal wildlife trade is estimated as a $10-20 billion per year business.
  • It is not just low level poachers getting most of the profits.
  • Transnational criminal organizations and terrorist groups are getting billions of dollars a year from this business. Al-Shabab [al-Shah-Bob] and Joseph Kony's the LRA are two examples.
  • The same groups that traffick elephant ivory and rhino horn also traffick drugs and weapons. So this isn't just a wildlife problem. It is a national security problem.
  • Currently, I have been working with my colleagues on the Foreign Affairs committee to make sure the U.S. government is doing everything we can to stop wildlife trafficking .
  • Part of the solution is understanding the problem.
  • Ranking Member on my Terrorism Subcommittee, Mr. KEATING and I have amended the Intelligence Authorization bill to require the Director of National Intelligence to produce a report on wildlife trafficking , how terrorist organizations are involved, and its impact on U.S. national security.
  • In addition to this a GAO study is being conducted to evaluate the job being done so far at trying to stop wildlife trafficking . Both of these should help us understand the problem better.
  • I'm happy to be an original cosponsor of Chairman ROYCE's bill to encourage countries to work together on this problem and elevate wildlife trafficking as a predicate offense under racketeering and money laundering statutes.
  • It is a strong bipartisan bill that I hope is passed into law soon.
  • Working together will stop wildlife trafficking in its tracks .
  • In the 1950s there were only a few hundred white rhino left in the world. Thanks to the work of people like Ian Player, today there are over 15,000.
  • The threat has been beaten back before and it can be done again.
  • And that's just the way it is.