U.S. Announces Ban on Import and Commercial Trade of Ivory to Counter Mass Slaughter of Africa's Elephants

Feb 12, 2014, 12:09 ET from Environmental Investigation Agency

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by the Environmental Investigation Agency:

Yesterday, the U.S. Administration announced its timely decision to enact a ban on the import and domestic commercial trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn as a major step to counter the mass slaughter of elephants across much of Africa. Up to 50,000 African elephants were killed in 2013 to feed demand for ivory in China and Japan, but also in the United States and EU nations.

This important U.S. announcement comes in advance of Thursday's UK high level summit on Illegal Wildlife Trade, with up to 50 nations attending and the plight of Africa's beleaguered elephants high on the Summit's agenda. The announcement builds upon the U.S. initiative to destroy its government seized ivory stocks in November 2013 to highlight the devastation caused by the global ivory trade.

"The United States is taking a bold and vital step in banning domestic ivory trade both to significantly reduce the large ivory market in the United States but also to encourage other major ivory consuming nations, especially China, Japan and the EU countries, to do the same," said Allan Thornton, President of the Environmental Investigation Agency, (EIA) a non-profit group based in Washington D.C. and London UK that has investigated and exposed illegal ivory trade in China and Japan.

The U.S. ban on imports and commercial trade in ivory and rhino horn is contained in the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, mandated in President Obama's July 2013 Executive Order and developed by the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking.

EIA welcomes the comprehensive and far sighted approach, outlined in the National Strategy, to tackle wildlife crime and the criminal syndicates and political corruption that facilitate it, while participating in and promoting increased enforcement, partnerships and opportunities for community support through increased benefit sharing from revenues earned from wildlife tourism.

"Implementing a ban on elephant ivory and rhino horn is an essential step to save these iconic species," said Lisa Handy, Senior Policy Advisor for EIA. "We look forward to supporting the United States government's efforts to enact and enforce a powerful ban on domestic ivory and rhino horn trade." 

"We urge other ivory consuming nations, especially China and Japan, to urgently ban ivory trade in their domestic markets as well. Ivory trade bans empower front line enforcement personnel to achieve effective enforcement on the ground often against politically powerful poaching syndicates," said Allan Thornton.

Contact: Amy Zets, Endangered Species Policy Analyst, amyzets@eia-global.org

SOURCE Environmental Investigation Agency