Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, released the following statement after the President issued an executive order to combat the illegal trade in wildlife.

The statement follows:

“The President has taken a major step to tackle the large-scale, militarized poaching of ivory and other high-value wildlife products. Rampant wildlife crime is not only exterminating critical wildlife populations, but the associated corruption, money laundering, and illicit financial flows are helping to drive broader instability in Central and East Africa.”

“The troubling growth in the illicit trade of ivory, rhino horns, and other wildlife products threatens U.S. economic, security, and developmental interests in Africa. The executive order will build upon the President’s vigorous and sustained leadership on this issue by improving coordination within the U.S. government and with partners around the world to stop this escalating crime.”

In March, a scientific report from a number of conservation organizations found that elephants in Central Africa have declined since 2002 by 62 percent due largely to poaching. Additionally, this “blood ivory” is fueling militias, who often trade it for weapons, while pushing elephants towards extinction in many parts of Africa.