Dear Cleveland Orchestra,
My name is Christina LaMonica, and I am the Founder of Ivory Free Ohio, a grassroots organization dedicated to outlawing all intra-state sales of Ivory, Rhino Horn, and Trophy Hunting products in our state without exemption. We’ve never met in person, but we’ve communicated via telephone and emails regarding our movement and your continued support.
As you are aware, we’ve worked diligently with Senator Frank LaRose and his staff, educating them on the adverse effects of the Ivory trade while creating legislation that protects our national security and helps Africa’s keystone species from extinction.
The United States is the largest consumer of Ivory and Rhino Horn products- 2nd to China. One Elephant is slaughtered every 15 minutes. That’s four an hour, 96 a day, 672 a week, 2,880 a month, and 34,560 a year. And in the time it took you and your constituents (Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Museum of Art) to hijack our Ivory Bill, over 25,000 Elephants have been killed for their Ivory tusks.
The business of buying and selling blood Ivory and Rhino Horn yields over $23 billion a year. Dealers of these illegal products are experts at disguising new Ivory to appear antique. Without a DNA Forensic Laboratory on-site to test the authenticity of every piece of Ivory the Orchestra acquires, there’s a 90% probability that you are purchasing tusks from a recently slaughtered Elephant.
We listened to the testimony of the League of American Orchestras at the Federal Advisory Council Meetings on Wildlife Trafficking emphatically resisting any ban on Ivory and Rhino Horn. We do not want to believe that the Cleveland Orchestra supports wildlife crimes or terrorism, but your enthusiasm for Ivory and manipulation of legislation, tells us otherwise.
In recent weeks, hundreds of anti-poaching Rangers lost their lives protecting Elephants and Rhinos from poachers. When organizations impose loopholes into legislation, they perpetuate the illegal trade and hinder the global movement to ban it.
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 can only surmise how much support the Cleveland Orchestra would gain by joining Billy Joel and countless other celebrities who have taken a stand against the illegal trade of blood Ivory and Rhino horn.
I say to you this; “Once a species becomes extinct, no corrective legislation can bring them back – they are gone forever.” Ivory Free Ohio is committed to a complete ban without exemption and continues to stand on the right side of history. We encourage you to do the same. Ivory belongs to Elephants, not the Orchestra.
Be Ivory Free.
Founder, Ivory Free Ohio
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