Why is Hillary Clinton trying to save African elephants? Chelsea Clinton explains.


Chelsea Clinton speaks at the Town & Country Inaugural Philanthropy Summit at Hearst Tower on Wednesday in New York City. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Town & Country)

One of the causes that former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken up since leaving government is saving African elephants from ivory poachers. In an interview, daughter Chelsea Clinton explains that her mother knew she wanted to tackle the issue in her post-State Department life.

"When my mom left the government, we knew this was one of the areas we wanted to work on together," Chelsea Clinton said in an interview with Outside Magazine published this week. "She had relationships with many of the leaders who impact the demand or trafficking."

The population of African elephants has shrunk considerably sine the 1980s. So the former secretary and her daughter embarked on an effort through the Clinton Global Initiative last year to try to reverse the trend.

"We thought that, through CGI, we could bring together those people — governments, NGOs on the ground, foundations that can help fund the work — to really make a coherent, coordinated effort," Chelsea Clinton told Outside. "For the first time in recent history, it became clear what the governments, NGOs, and academic partners were committing to in order to stop the killing, traffic, and demand."

As The Post's Juliet Eilperin reported last summer when Hillary Clinton decided to take up the cause, she had showed an interest in African elephants as secretary of state, hosting a conference on the issue in Washington in 2012.

"When my mom was secretary of state, one of the things that drew her attention to this was the fact that the Lord’s Resistance Army and Joseph Kony, the Al-Shabaab and the janjaweed in West Africa, Al Qaeda in North Africa, and many of the rebel and terrorist groups in Central Africa are trafficking not only in guns and humans, but in ivory," Chelsea Clinton said.

Chelsea Clinton reported "tremendous progress, especially on the demand side," but acknowledged that "we certainly don’t deserve credit for much of it."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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