Elephant in Namibia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed into law a ban on elephant ivory sales, reports NorthJersey.com.
The measure, passed earlier by the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly, establishes fines for first-time offenders caught buying or selling ivory products. Repeat offenders face stiffer fines.
“These stricter measures will help to reduce the amount of criminal activity that surrounds this industry while protecting wildlife populations that are already seriously threatened from this harmful practice,” Christie said in a press release.
The move was immediately welcomed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is in the midst of an anti-ivory trafficking campaign.
Today is an historic day for elephants and conservation,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of group’s 96 Elephants Campaign, in a statement. “The Wildlife Conservation Society and the 96 Elephants campaign praises N.J. Governor Chris Christie for signing into law a statewide ban on ivory sales.”
“Legal domestic ivory markets are an enforcement challenge and provide cover for laundering of ivory from elephants killed illegally in Africa. Once ivory is within a country’s borders, it becomes almost impossible to distinguish legal from illegal ivory. As long as demand for ivory remains high and enforcement efforts are low, the legal trade will continue to serve as a front and criminal syndicates will continue to drive elephant poaching across Africa. Today’s ban is a major step in ending this trade that currently threatens elephants with extinction across much of their range.”
By some estimates as many as 35,000 elephants are killed annually for their ivory. China, the United States, and Europe are the largest markets for ivory.