Hawaii Steps Up to Protect Elephants and Rhinos With Proposed Ivory Ban

Animal advocates are applauding lawmakers in Hawaii for moving forward with legislation intended to protect elephants and rhinos from being wiped out by poachers by banning the sale of ivory and rhino horns.

Wildlife advocates continue to warn that the severity of the poaching crisis could wipe out these iconic species within years. According to Born Free, which is supporting this legislation, if poaching continues at its current rate, African elephants could be gone within a decade, while the future for rhinos is similarly bleak.

While we continue to look to Asia as a major source for creating the demand behind the brutal trade that’s decimating these species, conservationists continue to point out that the U.S. is the second largest consumer of ivory in the world with New York and California at the top of the list for states with the biggest markets in the nation.

State by state, the U.S. is making progress towards shutting these markets down. New York and New Jersey both recently passed bans and now other states, including California, Connecticut, Iowa, Oklahoma and Washington are considering similar moves.

Wildlife advocates believe a ban in Hawaii will be especially significant because the state is home to the third largest market in the country. Citing a previous study by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, lawmakers argue that even with current laws and regulations in place dealing with sales, 89 percent of ivory sold in Hawaii is likely illegal or of unknown origin and that documents are often falsified to circumvent efforts to stop illegal sales.

Senator Will Espero introduced S.B. 674, which is appropriately named for the number of elephants who are killed each week for their tusks, in an effort to close markets that are perpetuating illegal sales, while Representative Karl Rhoads introduced its companion bill (H.B. 837). With a few exceptions, this legislation will “prohibit the importation, sale, barter, or possession with the intent to sell of any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product.”

“It is sad and disheartening that magnificent animals may be driven to extinction in our time due to greed and false information. We must do all that we can to save these elephants and rhinos and create a world where they can live without the fear of being slaughtered. It is the right and proper thing to do,” Espero said in a statement.

As Hawaii’s legislation moves forward and progress on the state level continues to be made, more good news comes with an announcement from the federal government that it has launched its National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking after promising to take steps to address this issue last year.

In short, the strategy will focus on three critical areas that include strengthening enforcement domestically and globally, reducing the demand for illegally traded wildlife and expanding international cooperation. Not only do its supporters hope it will protect elephants and rhinos, but also a host of other species who have become victims of the illegal trade in wildlife.

Dr. Cristian Samper, President and CEO of the Willdlife Conservation Society, said in a statement:

President Obama’s National Strategy and this new Implementation Plan for Combating Wildlife Trafficking represent an unprecedented commitment from the United States government to curb wildlife trafficking, an ever-increasing threat to our world’s wildlife, and to global, regional and local security. We applaud the President’s leadership and are optimistic that this strategy will bring real results in efforts to address this transnational organized crime – helping to prevent the extinction of a large array of species from the elephant, to the tiger, to the sea turtle, to the tarantula. There is indeed optimism that the scourge of poaching and illegal wildlife trade can be eliminated. Our world’s wildlife has a new reason for hope.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

A little bit too late?? Shame on the US for this, they call themselves a civilized country and let this go too far. This ban should come in force a decade ago.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

It needs to be banned everywhere and the US needs to lead the charge. There is no excuse for the US not having an outright ban on import/sales/ownership with huge penalties. This killing needs to stop.

Angev GERIDONI4 years ago

★ ★ ★ GREAT NEWS ★ ★ ★

Julie D.
Julie D4 years ago

This is wonderful and should be happening everywhere, not only in our own country but everywhere in the world.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

mari s.
Mari S4 years ago

It breaks your heart in so many places --

Thank God that so many are outraged and we're doing something about it -- let's ALL keep it up, especially those who have authority to save these magnificent beautiful animals ... save them from cruel suffering .... save them from death .... they deserve their lives -- they have the RIGHT to their lives ....

LET'S GO HAWAII .... so we can go on to our next stop ....

Maggie Welch
Maggie D4 years ago

First it was the buffalo, but that was only in the United States. Now, it seems, it's open season on elephants and rhino's everywhere. Why? Because there are people who love wearing the beautiful babbles that can be made from the slaughter of these soon to be extinct wonders of nature. I don't see why we can't go after those who purchase products made from ivory and rhino tusks. They are, after all, the ones that keep the market thriving. Confiscation of this ill-gotten jewelry, statues and who knows what else might send a warning signal. Since it is illegal shouldn't they also serve some jail time?

RosemaryNotWell Personal
Rosemary Rannes4 years ago

If not me then who? If not now then when?

May 13, 2014 ... These five simple words spoken by Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion before he left for
his second deployment are inspiring a national movement!

Original quote
“If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?”

― John E. Lewis

Isn't this the point?

Rosemary Underhay

A total worldwide ban is essential, because if any ivory at all can be sold legally, traffickers manage to trick the system and pass it off as legal. The same is true of wildlife trade and trafficking. Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State fund themselves through ivory and wildlife trafficking. I believe this is why governments are now intervening. Personally, I consider trading and trafficking in ivory and wildlife not simply a crime, but a sin.