New US rules will curtail domestic ivory trade
After publicly crushing more than a tonne of illegal ivory in New York in June, the US government has now taken another significant step, which will make it harder for poached ivory to be sold openly in the US – by issuing draft ivory regulations that will curtail the sale of commercial ivory in the country and help stop wildlife crime worldwide.
President Barack Obama announced the long-awaited regulations during his first official trip to Kenya.
The new regulations, which will now be open to a public comment period, come at a time when the slaughter of wild elephants continues unabated. Tanzania recently announced a drastic 60 percent drop in its elephant populations in the past five years due to poaching for ivory trade.
WWF welcomes the strong and pragmatic proposal put forward by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which represents a significant advance in US ivory policy.
Specifically, shifting the burden to the seller to prove that a piece of ivory is legal could be a significant game changer in enforcement efforts.
“The Administration is making it clear it will not tolerate the senseless slaughter of elephants and the global criminal syndicates profiting from it. Further restricting the sale of ivory is a critical step forward in tightening loopholes that allow for poached ivory to be sold openly in US markets,” said Ginette Hemley, WWF-US Senior Vice President of Wildlife Conservation.
But the regulations would still allow some sale of ivory. WWF believes the response must match the scale of the crisis, and we advocate for an end to commercial elephant ivory sales in the US as the most effective and efficient solution – and the only way to guarantee that US trade is no longer complicit in the demise of Africa’s elephants.
“Strong US ivory policy will do more than save elephants. It will play a vital role in ensuring US consumers are not unknowingly contributing to the slaughter of these magnificent animals, and continue to build global momentum and international action to stop wildlife crime,” added Hemley.
But to be truly effective, the new regulations must be backed by robust enforcement and funding