Exotic Wildlife Trafficking Illegal ivory trafficking is an escalating global issue. Elephants and rhinos may soon be driven to extinction by poaching
The demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn, driven by China, Japan, the Philippines, the United States and other countries, has created a massive international market that can have detrimental economic, social and environmental effects.
Poaching is now a sophisticated international crime racket and a national security threat. Terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Janjaweed militia in Sudan and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda obtain millions from ivory trafficking and use it to finance their attacks on Americans and others. Approximately 35,000 elephants are killed annually, close to 100 elephants every day. At this rate elephants will be extinct in a few decades.
Over 100,000 elephants were poached from 2010 to 2012. It is estimated that there are about 500,000 African elephants left in the wild. (National Academy of Sciences)
Wildlife poaching is worth $8-10 billion per year, and ranks only behind narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking in international crime activities.
The U.S. is the world’s second largest consumer of ivory behind China. One-third of ivory sold in the U.S. was recently carved, and thus was illegally imported from recently poached elephants. (HSUS)
How We Can Help
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended instituting a near ban on the domestic ivory trade, and placed a moratorium on ivory importation. A host of states that have significant ivory markets or are concerned about the poaching crisis have enacted or are contemplating a ban on the ivory and rhino horn trades in their jurisdictions.
Research Initiates Legislation
Progress at State Level
Currently at least 10 states are considering bills to address wildlife trafficking.
Exceptions to State Bills
Some state bills include exceptions to the ban on the sale of ivory, including antique ivory not less than 100 years old and held by permit and/or inheritance.
- HB 2176 — Ivory or rhinoceros horn permits; definitions
- HB 16-1341 — Concerning protecting animal species threatened with extinction by prohibiting trafficking
- HB 5578 — An act prohibiting the sale and trade of ivory and rhinoceros horn
- SB 156 — An act to amend Title 7 of the Delaware Code relating to the import, sale, purchase, trade, barter, or possession of ivory and rhinoceros horn
District of Columbia
- DC B21-251 — Prohibits the import, sale, purchase, barter, or possession with intent to sell ivory and rhinoceros horns in the District.
- SB 1858 — Provides that it shall be unlawful for any person to import, sell, offer for sale, purchase, barter, or possess with intent to sell, any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product
- HF 2204 — An Act prohibiting the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn with certain, providing penalties, and including effective date provisions.
- SR 101 — Resolution supporting the federal government’s proposed rule changes that would restrict the sale of African ivory across state lines
- HB 1052 — Ban on ivory and rhino horn sales
- HB 542 — Prohibiting a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, or possessing with the intent to sell specified parts or products of specified animal species
- SB 991 — For the purpose of prohibiting a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, or possessing with the intent to sell certain parts or products of certain animal species
- H 1275 — Prohibiting the import, sale, purchase, barter, or possession with intent to sell, of any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product.
- A 4773 — Prohibiting transport or possession of “Big 5” African species through Port Authority
- AB 8394 — An act prohibiting the possession and transport of certain animals and
body parts thereof at airports and port facilities owned or operated
by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- AB 6071 — Relates to musical instruments containing ivory or rhinoceros horn
- HB 1537 –Prohibiting the import, sale, purchase, barter
or possession of ivory or rhinoceros horn
- H 7669 — Sale of ivory or rhinoceros horns
- H 297 — Prohibit the import, sale, offer for sale, purchase, barter, or possession with intent to sell of
any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product
- Initiative 1401, funding for — I-1401 passed in Nov. 2015 to restrict endangered species product; 2016 Governor’s Supplemental Budget contains $500,000 for enforcement
- SB 728 — Relating to the sale and purchase of products containing ivory or rhinoceros horn and providing a criminal penalty
To download a complete list of bills and their current status as of 3.15.16, click here.
Science and Reports
Excerpt about NCEL Fact Sheet on Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn Bans PDF download.Download
Excerpt about NCEL Wildlife Trafficking Briefing Book, briefing book with a concise fact sheet, a FAQ, and comparisons of state legislative provisionsDownload
The National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking establishes guiding principles and strategic priorities for U.S. efforts to stem illegal trade in wildlife.Read More
Excerpt about Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) website.Read More
Saving Animals From Extinction focuses on wildlife conservation worldwide, and are currently working to pass Initiative 1401 in Washington State. 1401 would prohibit the purchase, sale and distribution of most endangered species products.Read More
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has developed a new program to help agricultural producers inform consumers that they are farming in a way that benefits bees. From the press release: Funded by a grant from the USDA, the Xerces Society partnered with Oregon Tilth to develop and launch the Bee Better Certified program. The […]
State legislators from 44 states are calling for President Trump and Congress to maintain designations of national monuments, following the president’s recent executive order calling for a review of the Antiquities Act. The move could jeopardize national monuments designated by presidents in the past two decades. Three hundred twenty five members of the National Caucus […]
New research from Oregon State University demonstrates the importance of nature-oriented experiences on a person’s overall life satisfaction. The study analyzed 13 metrics connecting well-being and engaging with the natural environment, specifically with subjective measures like community activities, access to wild resources, and trust in policymakers. Eleven of the 13 metrics studied had a positive […]