In an effort to stop the decimation of the African elephant population and halt the smuggling of ivory products, the Obama administration has fulfilled its pledge to implement a near total ban on the sale of ivory within the US. Although the importation of ivory has been illegal in the US for decades, once illegal ivory has been smuggled into the country it becomes both very difficult to distinguish from legal ivory pieces and difficult to monitor its movement.
The new regulations will focus on the sale of ivory within the US, by restricting the ivory movement across state lines and prohibit the export of ivory apart from legal pieces which include antique ivory (over 100 years old) or certain specific items including firearms, furniture pieces and musical instruments providing the ivory makes up less than half of the monetary value or size of the pieces.
After China, the US is the largest destination for illegal ivory. Both countries will meet in Beijing next week to discuss additional restrictions to further suppress the global illegal trade. The effects of the Chinese restrictions have already seen a drop in ivory prices in Asia and pressure is mounting on Japan to adopt similar measures.
Nearly 100 African elephants are poached daily with wildlife trafficking ranked the fourth largest illegal activity globally. For more information on the global regulation of the international trade in ivory products, controlled by CITES, please read our post here.