Statement of Senator Harry Reid
Asian Elephant Conservation Act & Mrican Elephant Conservation Act
November 4, 1997

Having participated in the Reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act I can testify to the criticism one receives for legislating greater protection for our wildlife.

The criticism comes from all sides.

Some say we aren't doing enough & others say the protections do little other than restrict property owners.

One of the bill's we are considering today is a good example of why protecting threatened species can work.

The African Elephant Conservation Act -- now up for reauthorization -- has helped contribute to the African Elephant population stabilization.

Senator Jeffords is to be commended for all of his efforts on this legislation as well as his support for the Asian Elephant Conservation Act.

By the late 1980's the population of African Elephants declined from approximately 1.3 million in 1979, to less than 700,000 in 1987.

The primary reason for this decline was the poaching and illegal slaughter of elephants for their tusks, fueled by international ivory trade.

This Act, which has funded over 50 conservation projects throughout Africa, has been instrumental in stopping this demise of African elephants.

That said, I do have strong concerns about one of the programs funded under this Act--CAMPFIRE.

I question whether we should be allowing scarce dollars to go to a program that supports the hunting of these animals I am interested in hearing more about this issue at today's hearing.

I believe the Asian Elephant Conservation Act is much needed.

It represents a small but meaningful investment of U.S. money, to be matched by private funds, and should be of great benefit to Asian elephants.