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U.S. Completes Near-Total Ban on Ivory Trade

  • Thursday, June 2, 2016
  • Washington, D.C.
Ivory crushed in NYC Times Square

The U.S. government destroys its stockpiles of confiscated ivory in New York City's Times Square, 2015. Photo: Kelsey Williams/FWS

Statement from Dr. Patrick Bergin, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation and member of the U.S. Federal Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s revised 4(d) rule for the African elephant under the Endangered Species Act, which completes a near-total elephant ivory ban in the United States:

The African Wildlife Foundation fully supports the revisions made to the 4(d) rule, which will make it more difficult to launder illicit ivory in the United States and provide greater protections to Africa’s elephants. Strong laws around wildlife crime and strong enforcement of those laws are absolutely critical in deterring traffickers and poachers, and each country has an obligation to review and strengthen its laws, close loopholes and otherwise simplify the role of law enforcement in combatting the illegal wildlife trade. We should do everything in our power to facilitate, rather than complicate, enforcement efforts in the United States and around the world.

The revision of this rule and the U.S. government’s continued support at home and around the world to combat poaching and trafficking are in keeping with the 2013 Executive Order issued by President Obama, which instructed all executive departments and agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the U.S. Department of the Interior, to take all appropriate actions to combat wildlife trafficking. This means not only raising awareness about the laws that govern wildlife trade, but, as in this case, revising them if they are deemed weak, ineffective or obstructive.

All countries—and especially those that are source, transit or destination countries for illegal wildlife products—have a role to play in tidying their own house. Laws around wildlife crime must be strong and unequivocal if they are to send a strong, unequivocal message that trafficking in ivory and other wildlife products will not be tolerated.

The revised rule will more tightly restrict ivory trade in the United States, essentially prohibiting most commerce in ivory, with very limited exceptions for certain pre-existing manufactured items such as musical instruments, furniture pieces and firearms that contain less than 200 grams of ivory and that meet other special criteria. To learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement and other actions the U.S. government has taken to combat wildlife trafficking, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website here

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