The plight of elephants and rhinoceroses whose ivory and horns have made them the target of poachers drew about 200 people Saturday to a soggy rally in the shadow of the United Nations building in Manhattan.
"At the current killing rate, we have less than a generation to save both species from extinction," said Chris Parker, U.S. director of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and one of the event organizers. His group trains park rangers in Africa to fight poachers.
The New York protesters joined 133 other cities worldwide for the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, which called attention to the recent increase in ivory and horn trade that threatens the animals.
Last year, a United Nations report said illegal poaching and illicit ivory trade in Africa had tripled in a decade and an estimated 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in 2011. The report said criminal networks were increasingly involved in the trade between Africa and Asian nations that prize ivory as status symbols or for alternative medicine.
James Deutsch, vice president of conservation strategy at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo and other facilities, asked protesters to "work together around the world to make people realize that ivory is not precious and beautiful and pure and something to be cherished unless it's on an elephant."
Carrying signs that read "End the Slaughter" and "Save them from Extinction" they had marched from the Hudson River across 42nd Street until stopping at East 47th and 1st Avenue. Protesters called on other states to follow the examples of New York and New Jersey, which this year passed laws restricting the sale of ivory.
"There's just no need to kill them for ivory," said Nadja Rutkowski, 37, of Hoboken, N.J., who works in film distribution. "What's ivory good for other than decoration?"
Susan Tang, 46, brought her two daughters to the protest because they had learned about the danger facing rhinos and elephants at PS 107 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where they helped raise money as part of the Beast Relief Committee. Seeing the rain, Tang said her daughters weren't keen on coming out. "I told them the poachers still go out and poach in the rain," Tang said. "That was all they needed."