Baby elephant in South Africa.
The New York State Assembly has passed a bill that would ban the purchase and sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which played a key role in pushing the legislation.
The bill, which passed nearly unanimously, would bar nearly all ivory sales. For the measure to become law, it now needs to be adopted by the New York State Senate and then signed by New York Governor Cuomo. WCS says that is likely.
“We are encouraged that the New York State Senate will likewise pass a ban and that Governor Cuomo will ultimately sign the measure into law,” said WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper. “New York can set the tone that any actions – even those here in the United States – are contributing to the demise of elephants and rhinos. As a global community, we must conduct a blitz against wildlife trafficking now or in our lifetime such majestic species as elephants could go extinct in large parts of their range.”
New York is the largest importer of ivory into the United States, according to WCS, which adds that the law could influence laws elsewhere.
“This state legislation will enhance federal efforts to tighten the ivory trade ban on a federal level,” said Samper. “It also sends a clear signal that actions connected to the poaching of elephants and rhinos are serious crimes. They demand tougher penalties which we hope to see in the final state ban.”
Poaching of elephants for their ivory has surged in recent years, taking a massive toll on Africa’s populations. WCS estimates that some 35,000 elephants are killing annually for the trade. Most of the ivory is consumed in East Asia, but substantial volumes also finds its way into the United States and Europe.