Selling ivory is now illegal in the United States. A year after the proposal for an almost-complete ban on sales of products containing African elephant ivory, the Obama administration declared the ban final on Thursday. With this commitment, the US takes a big step to aid efforts for elephant conservation and urges other countries around the world to do the same.
However, there are some exceptions: “Preexisting items manufactured with ivory such as musical instruments used in orchestras, furniture and items such as firearms containing fewer than 200 grams are exempt. Antiques at least a century old are also exempt, but owners must prove an artifact’s age through a professional appraisal or some other document that can be verified” stated U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.
This has caused some turmoil within the ivory dealing and collecting world, where an estimated $11.9 billion will be valueless next month when the law goes into effect. According to the International Development Group, up to 30,000 people who own ivory-based antiques will be impacted. Ivory adorned walking sticks, ivory-tipped cutlery, art, and instruments are all included within the rule. “The result of this is the antique ivory business has all but ceased in this country,” said Anton Bruehl, a collector and researcher who conducted the survey for the International Development Group last year. “I cannot sell it in this country. I don’t even know if I can donate it to this institution.”
However, in the eyes of conservation, this rule is long overdue. Similar laws have already been enacted years ago to cut down on the demand for rhino horn and sea turtle shell, which along with elephant ivory compost some of the most heated wildlife poaching crime in the world. Rhino horn can go for $5,000 and ivory can get up to $1,500 per pound. The demand was met by poachers who slaughtered an estimated 100,000 elephants in three years. Furthermore, it is known that such wildlife trafficking finances terrorist groups throughout the world and threatens many millions of human lives as well as elephants.
The rule has garnered many responses from the public - 1.3 million in fact, which is the second highest number of responses ever! Ashe said the the FWS is proud to say that 98% of the comments received were in favor of the ban.
Sources: The Washington Post