- Today President Obama announced new rules to curb the elephant ivory trade.
- The regulation would ban the sale of ‘virtually all ivory across state lines.’
- An estimated 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010-2012, according to scientists.
In response to growing concerns about elephant poaching, President Obama today announced a new push to limit the ivory trade in the United States.
In a joint press conference held with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Obama said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a new regulation that “bans the sale of virtually all ivory across state lines.” The move follows a near-complete ban on the commercial ivory trade enacted by the administration last year.
The new rule, which will be published Wednesday for a 60-day public comment period, would make it harder for ivory traffickers to use loopholes sell product, according to Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.
“By tightening domestic controls on trade in elephant ivory and allowing only very narrow exceptions, we will close existing avenues that are exploited by traffickers and address ivory trade that poses a threat to elephants in the wild,” Ashe said in a statement. “Federal law enforcement agents will have clearer lines by which to demarcate legal from illegal trade.”
The announcement was immediately welcomed by conservation groups.
“The United States has a global obligation to help stop wildlife trafficking,” said WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper in a statement. “We applaud President Obama’s remarks emphasizing the need for a ban on ivory sales in the United States. While some states such as New York and New Jersey have recently enacted laws banning ivory sales, we are delighted that the President is calling for a national ban – which will help prevent the illegal killing of elephants and the trafficking in their ivory.”
“We’re thrilled the Obama administration has taken this important step to reduce the domestic trade in ivory,” added Tara Easter, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The United States has one of the largest markets for ivory in the world and reducing demand here will go a long way toward saving elephants in Africa.”
Scientists estimate that more than 100,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory by poachers between 2010 and 2012. Populations in some countries, like Tanzania, have plunged as a result.
The government of the world’s largest market for ivory — China — recently announced it would ban the ivory trade at an unspecified date.