June 3, 2016
Animal advocates who celebrate all things elephant, and those who fight against wildlife trafficking across the globe, have reason to cheer this week. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Thursday that the restrictions outlined under President Obama’s 2013 Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking have been finalized. The new rules stipulate a near-total ban on domestic commercial import, export and sales of African elephant ivory across state lines.
This revision to the Endangered Species Act will become effective on July 6, 2016. President Obama issued the order because he and his administration understand that it is in our national interest to combat wildlife trafficking. As a nation, we must ensure that we are in no way contributing to the demand for elephant ivory. Overall, wildlife trafficking contributes to the growth of illegal economies, generates billions in illicit revenue and reduces the social and environmental benefits of wildlife. The USFW received more than 1.3 million comments from advocates and the public, which proved to them that Americans care deeply about their ele’s and about stopping wildlife trafficking.
There are a number of changes to the rules as they now stand regarding regulation and enforcement, some of which many will believe need further amendment. After July 6, 2016, noncommercial imports of sport-hunted trophies will be limited to two per hunter per year and will require a threatened species permit. Currently there are no limits for noncommercial import of these items.
Further, ‘worked ivory’, that is, elephant ivory that was legally acquired and removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976, and is either part of one’s household, inherited, part of a musical instrument or part of a traveling exhibition, will now be allowed to be exported. Raw, unworked ivory is still prohibited regardless of age of the item. There are a number of additional changes and restrictions. If you would like clarification, please refer to this FWS document for further details on the new rules.
Comments from CEO’s and Directors of various organizations are extremely praiseworthy. Said Jeff Flocked, Regional Director, North America, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, “We don’t often get to change American laws to help protect imperiled animals halfway across the globe, but today was one of those days.” Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President of World Wildlife Fund, stated, “the Obama Administration continues to set the bar in the global fight against wildlife crime.”
Yes, it was a good day for the ele’s.