Tuesday, 7 June 2016

US adopts near total ban on commercial ivory trade

Barack Obama tightens restriction on sale of elephant ivory within the US to clamp down on illegal trade

Thursday 2 June 201617.15 BSTLast modified on Thursday 2 June 201621.48 BST

Barack Obama imposed a near total ban on the commercial trade in elephant ivory on Thursday in an effort to choke off smuggling networks and end the slaughter of African wildlife.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service rules ban the sale of elephant ivory across state lines, and deepen restrictions on international ivory sales.

Under the new rules, only antique items more than 100 years old – such as a figurines or chess pieces – or objects containing relatively small amounts of ivory, such as pianos and other musical instruments, will be legal for sale.

The rules – which received personal attention from President Obama, and Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state – were the strongest action to date to cut off the trafficking of ivory which has devastated the African elephant population.

The US is the second destination for illegal ivory, after China.

US officials will visit Beijing next week for talks with Chinese officials aimed at further choking off the global ivory trade. But Peter Knights, the chief executive of WildAid, said ivory prices in Asia were already dropping, in response to the ban. He said he hoped Japan would move soon to cut off the illegal trade.

An estimated 96 African elephants are killed every day for ivory, sold across Asia and the Americas.

Obama first confronted wildlife trafficking in 2013, with an executive order funding training for African police forces and park rangers outgunned by armed trafficking gangs who were slaughtering elephants and rhinos for their body parts.

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