California Cracks Down on the Ivory and Rhino Horn Trades

In an effort to help protect elephants and rhinos from the poaching crisis that threatens their future survival, California lawmakers have introduced legislation that would crack down on the trade of both ivory and rhino horn in the state.

International sales of ivory were banned under CITES in 1989, but loopholes still allow people to own and sell ivory that was imported before that, which is known as ‘pre-ban’ ivory. Despite the ban, elephants and rhinos continue to be killed at a terrifying rate, while the number of large-scale seizures continues to grow.

California created its own law regarding ivory in 1976, which currently makes it illegal to import or sell elephant parts, but a loophole allows for the sale of ivory that was imported before 1977. The problem with that is that no one can tell the difference and allowing some legalized ivory sales offers a cover for the illegal trade and has made the law virtually impossible to enforce.

Assembly speaker Toni Atkins and principal co-author Senator Ricardo Lara just introduced a bill, AB 96, to crack down on the trade, which is appropriately named for the 96 elephants who are killed each day for their tusks. The bill would close the loophole and ban buying, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell, or importing with intent to sell elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn with exceptions for educational and scientific purposes.

It will also increase penalties for violators and put the responsibility of enforcement into the hands of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, as opposed to law enforcement officers who currently deal with the issue.

“The slaughter of elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns is as senseless as it is cruel,” said Atkins in a statement. “California recognized that and enacted a law almost 40 years ago to end the ivory trade here, but that law needs strengthening in order to be effective. AB 96 closes the loophole that allows the illegal ivory trade to continue to flourish and adds real enforcement teeth to the law so California can do our part to end the slaughter.”

While China is largely being blamed for the demand that’s responsible for the continued slaughter of elephants and rhinos, the U.S. is right up there with them, coming in second place on the list of the world’s largest markets for ivory. California is also believed to be home to the second largest markets in the nation behind New York City.

Last week the Natural Resources Defense Council released the results of an undercover investigation that found 1,250 pieces of ivory for sale in 107 tourist shops, antique stores and markets in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Worse, the authors of the report believe that the amount of ivory from recently slain elephants has doubled since 2006.

“It’s absolutely astonishing how much ivory is being sold, in large part illegally, here in California,” said Elly Pepper, an NRDC wildlife advocate. “I think if people realized that the pieces being displayed right now on local store shelves most often come from elephants that were killed in recent years, they’d be shocked and outraged. But most people don’t know that the great majority of ivory products these days are altered to look like antiques in order to appear legitimate.”

While the federal government is working on strengthening laws to protect these iconic species from disappearing, hopefully California will pass this bill and join other states that have taken the lead on this issue including New York and New Jersey, which both recently passed legislation to fight this bloody trade.

TAKE ACTION!

Please sign and share the petition urging California’s lawmakers to take a stand for wildlife by passing a tougher law to protect elephants and rhinos from poachers.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

77 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Marje Szelmeczka

Signed

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Manuela C.
Manuela C4 years ago

Petition signed!

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Angela K.
Angela K4 years ago

Petition signed & shared

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Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Zarafonetis4 years ago

Petition Signed & Shared.

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Valentina R.
Valentina R4 years ago

Petition signed.
The ivory business must end, immediately, and world-wide. The governments, as usual, aren't doing enough to save endangered species.

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mari s.
Mari S4 years ago

PUT THESE CRUEL KILLER-POACHERS OUT OF BUSINESS PERMANENTLY --

ENLIGHTEN THE MARKET OF THE HORRORS OF HOW THESE ANIMALS SUFFER AND

LEST NOT FORGET -- SHED LIGHT ON TRUTH AND FACTS AND DESTROY THE FALSE MYTHS!

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Oren k
Oren k4 years ago

Thank you California

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donald Baumgartner

Signed !!!!!

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