Local woman helps pass anti-ivory legislation

Photo by Jill SnyderAn African trio of adolescent elephants roams in the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana last year. The hunting of elephants is now outlawed in Botswana.
Courtesy photoOn August 8 at Maher Terminals in the seaport of Elizabeth, New Jersey, from left, Humane Society International representative Iris Ho, The Humane Society of the United States - New Jersey state director Kathleen Schatzmann, Elephants DC president Jen Samuel, New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji advocated successful for an ivory sales ban in the Garden State this spring and summer.

Landenberg >> Jen Samuel said when she was growing up in Landenberg she loved animals — especially dolphins and butterflies. Then in college she learned about elephants — an endangered species with so many unique and impressive qualities that she decided to do something to ensure their survival.

“They are loyal and wise. Other species migrate with them, because they know where the water is. They spread the seeds for forests in their dung. But they are facing extinction; in Africa they are being killed at the rate of 96 a day,” she said.

So she took some action. Today she is the founded and president of the non-profit organization called ElephantsDC.

In that capacity and with other members she recently lobbied to have the sale of ivory banned in New Jersey. Last week their efforts were rewarded when that law was passed.

Samuel, 33, lives in Newark, Delaware, but she operates her organization out of an office in Landenberg, her home town.

It has about 300 members, of which about 20 are very active in their effforts to save the species.

She said they would like to see the sale of ivory banned worldwide, but they chose New Jersey as a starting point because it is a conservation-minded state where the chances were good of passage.

They contacted New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak and worked with the Humane Society to frame a proposed law.

When it came to a vote, Samuel said, it was unanimously approved in the state Senate and received only two negative votes in the state assembly.

She said her next step is to approach about 10 other states that are conservation minded, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, and hope for the same results. Then on Oct. 4, Elephants DC and other pro-elephant groups have a march planned on the White House from the Lincoln Memorial.

The law still permits people to buy old ivory jewelry or piano keys, but forbids commerce of new ivory.

The hoped-for effects of the law, Samuel said, is to dry up demand so that the hunters who kill elephants for their tusks will not be able to get profit from the sale.

Still, there is a long way to go. She said China is a major importer and buyer of ivory, and in order for the slaughter to stop, that nation must cease its use of the animal product.

What is worse, she said, is that many terrorist organizations kill elephants and sell the ivory to support their activities.

Perhaps, drying up the market for ivory would stem their activities, she said.

Her advice to others who want to help save the elephants is to take steps similar to hers. “Ask you legslators to ban it in your state,” she said.

More information is available online at elephantsdc.org.

Chris Barber can be reached at agsun@ kennettpaper.com

About the Author

Chris Barber

Chris Barber is the editor of the Avon Grove Sun. She was previously southern bureau chief of the Daily Local News and editor of the Kennett Paper, earning honors in writing and photography. Reach the author at agsun@kennettpaper.com .