Bans on Ivory Sweep Through the East Coast

Now here’s a fashion fad we can get behind: a growing number of states on the Eastern Seaboard are enacting ivory bans, or at least trying to. New York and New Jersey are both in the news this month thanks to celebrity activism and legislative activities that could lead to bans on the sale of ivory products. This would be a huge step for elephants and rhinos, both of whom are poached for their beautiful horns, which we think look the most gorgeous on the body of a living animal, not on the hilt of a knife, in jewelry, or on other manmade objects.

In New Jersey, the House and Senate have passed a bill that moved swiftly through committee and floor debate to the desk of Governor Chris Christie. The bill would ban the trade or sale of ivory throughout the state, protecting the dwindling numbers of elephants and rhinos in the wild. Walruses, whales and other animals hunted for their ivory are also protected under this legislation, which would provide exceptions for special situations like educational purposes and law enforcement activities. As if poaching on its own weren’t bad enough, funds from poaching fuel terrorist activities in the Middle East, with groups like Al Qaeda using poaching profits to buy guns and other equipment — this isn’t just an animal welfare issue, but also a national security one.

Actress Meryl Streep has issued a statement in support of the bill, urging the governor to vote yes and strike an important symbolic blow against the ivory trade in addition to cracking down on the state’s role in the ivory trade. While Christie vetoed a bill earlier this year to ban gestation crates for sows, supporters of this bill are hopeful that he can see the practical necessity as well as the compassionate one in this case.

Meanwhile, in New York, another celebrity is riding to the rescue for animals. Peter Dinklage issued an impassioned call to New York’s legislature, asking them to pass a bill that would enact a similar ivory ban. The ban is supported by the Humane Society of the United States as well as the New York City Bar. Like New Jersey’s, it would be a revolutionary piece of legislation that could become a model for other states to use, creating a groundswell of support for anti-ivory legislation across the United States.

Critics of the legislation argue that it will harm people with musical instruments, antiques, knives, and other items containing vintage and historic ivory. The very limited framing and interpretation of the bill, they suggest, will lead to arrests and confiscations of ivory that isn’t contributing to the current poaching trade.

Their concerns surround family heirlooms, antique instruments, and other items that aren’t a part of the current global black market in ivory — though these items, of course, do feed demand for ivory in the big picture. Already, confusion about endangered woods, ivory, and other restricted components can be an issue when transporting or traveling with antiques, especially instruments, and they’re concerned that this could compound the problem.

Photo credit: Christian Haugen.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Sara Sezun
Sara S4 years ago

Saving elephants lives is the most important issue, not protecting family heirlooms or musical instruments.

Angev GERIDONI4 years ago

Thank you to all who love the animals and the planet, and who already signed the petition to protect horses from Pétropolis, if no, please help give an happy end to the sad story of those enslaved animals, and share these petitions :
1) Care 2

To know more on poor horses from Petropolis :
3) Petropolis shame‬

Thank you

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

Interesting comments... Thanks.

Tammy D.
Tammy D4 years ago

Oh Nikolas k. You are funny....

This ban is a good tiny step, but I really don't think this will change much. What would, is regulation in the Philippines. That is a major hub for ivory. A lot of African countries are making great progress, but until the desire for ivory in Asia is crushed, nothing is going to change. China's infiltration of Africa does not bode well for endangered African animals.

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Thanks for the post.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

A milestone for more places to catch up with

Dianne D.
Dianne D4 years ago

I hope the bans work. We need to put armies out to protect these creatures and use the poachers as target practice.

Nelson Petrie
Nelson Petrie4 years ago

Only in the East Coast? The ban must be enacted throughout all the 50 states of this country. Americans must understand and realize that because of their vanity the lives of innocent animals are sacrificed - just because you wanted that piece of ivory ornament to decorate your body! Americans must be zealous about such things (like banning ivory), banning hunting, banning rodeos, hound -dog racing etc with the fiery energy of an evangelical believer. There must be Billy Grahams in this nation not to preach about a particular religious philosophy but about the importance of wildlife protection, eliminating factory farm cruelty, banning guns, hunting and similar issues. They must preach and promote veganism in the same way Joel Osteen or Billy Graham preaches religion.

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rush4 years ago

This is music to my ears.