Dear Cleveland Orchestra,
My name is Christina LaMonica and I am the Founder and President of Ivory Free Ohio, a grassroots organization dedicated to ending the sale and trade of all Ivory, Rhino Horn, and Trophy Hunting products. We have never met in person, but we have communicated over the telephone and through emails regarding the push to have these products banned in the state of Ohio. As you may know I approached my District Senator in June, 2015. I wanted to educate him about the devastating effects of the illegal Ivory trade, while encouraging him to create Legislation that would protect our national security and help save Africa’s keystone species from extinction.
The United States is the largest consumer of blood Ivory and Rhino Horn products – 2nd to China. One Elephant is slaughtered for its tusks every 15 minutes. That’s 4 an hour, 96 a day, 672 a week, 2,880 a month, and 34,560 a year. And in the time that it took you to commandeer the draft of the Ohio Ivory Bill -adding loopholes to protect your interests, over 25,000 Elephants have been killed while the terrorists committing these atrocities have generated billions of dollars trafficking Ivory into the United States.
The business of buying and selling blood Ivory and Rhino Horn yields a staggering $23 billion dollars a year. Dealers of these illegal products are experts at disguising new Ivory to appear as old, antique Ivory. Without having a DNA forensic laboratory on-site to test the authenticity of every piece of Ivory, there is a 90% chance that you will purchase illegal Ivory.
I have listened to the testimony of the League of American Orchestras at the Federal Advisory Council Meetings on Wildlife Trafficking emphatically resisting the complete ban of Ivory and Rhino Horn products in the United States. We know that you do not support wildlife crimes or terrorism. However, it appears that the love of instruments far exceeds the importance of human lives and keystone species.
In recent events, over 150 Wildlife Rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty protecting Elephants and Rhinos from poachers. Are we to assume that instruments are more important than the lives of the men and women who sacrifice themselves to protect endangered species?!
You have stated that you are “committed to the goals of wildlife conservation and combating the illegal trade of ivory and other protected species”, yet your actions speak louder than your words as the most recent draft of the Ohio Ivory Bill benefits the blood Ivory trade and hinders the global movement to ban it.
In 2014, legendary musician and piano man; Billy Joel, took a stand against the use of Ivory by writing an open letter on his website stating; “I am a piano player. And I realize that ivory piano keys are preferred by some pianists…but a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day. There are other materials which can be substituted for piano keys. But magnificent creatures like these can never be replaced. Music must never be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species. Music should be a celebration of life — not an instrument of death.”
One has to wonder how much more financial support the Orchestra would receive if you joined Billy Joel and countless other celebrities who have taken a stand against the illegal trade of blood Ivory and Rhino horn. Imagine the global impact that would take place if you stood up and said “No to Ivory and Rhino Horn!”
I say to you: “Ivory Belongs to Elephants, not the Orchestras!” Ivory Free Ohio is committed to a complete ban of Ivory, Rhino horn, and Trophy Hunting products. We stand on the right side of history and so should you. Be Ivory Free!
Ivory Free Ohio Founder and President
CITES. (1991). Identification Guide for Ivory and Ivory Substitutes. CITES.org. Retrieved from https://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/resources/pub/E-Ivory-guide.pdf
Joel, B. (2015, April 17). Billy Joel Lends Voice to Save Elephants. BillyJoel.com. Retrieved from http://docs.nrdc.org/wildlife/files/wil_15010601a.pdf
Portman, R. (2014, February 8). Elephants Slaughtered for Trinkets and Terrorism. CNN.com. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/08/opinion/portman-elephants/
Stiles, D. (2014, March). Elephant Ivory Trafficking in California, USA. NRDC.org. Retrieved from http://docs.nrdc.org/wildlife/files/wil_15010601a.pdf
WildAid. (2016, February 4). World Celebrities “Join the Herd” to Fight for Africa’s Elephants. WildAid.org. Retrieved from http://wildaid.org/news/world-celebrities-%E2%80%98join-herd%E2%80%99-fight-africa%E2%80%99s-elephants