Washington, D.C. appears to be the new hub of the country’s ivory trade, according to a report released Wednesday.
For those of you following my blog, I want to share with you this post from Conservation International (CI). To go directly to the article, please click here, or see the link at the bottom of this post.
If you have heard about poaching in the news recently, you have most likely noticed that most articles point to Asia as the primary source of demand for ivory. China, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are often noted as key markets.1 However, many people are not aware that the U.S. is also a key player, with the second largest market after china.2
U.S. ivory imports were outlawed in 1990, when a ban established by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1989 went into effect. However, the CITES ban did little to reduce illicit ivory imports, and distinguishing between sanctioned and illicit ivory is nearly impossible.3 Consequently, the ivory market in the United States has flourished. In recent years, some states, notably California, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, New jersey, New York, and Washington have introduced laws banning ivory sales. In response, ivory sellers have moved their inventories to states with no trade regulations, including Washington, D.C, Virginia, and Maryland.4
In an effort to save elephants and reduce illicit ivory imports, the Obama Administration introduced a new, “near-total” ban on domestic ivory sales on July 6th, 2016.5 This ban is intended to prevent the masquerading of illicit ivory as sanctioned ivory. Time will tell whether these new measures will prove effective in reducing illegal ivory imports.
You can help save elephants by spreading the word about ivory and poaching, signing petitions, and writing letters to lawmakers in support of ivory bans. And most importantly, never buy ivory! To keep up on the status of African elephants, check out the IUCN Red list. Click here to support the IUCN’s 2020 species assessment goal.
1 Strauss, Mark. “Who Buys Ivory? You’d Be Surprised.” National Geographic, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150812-elephant-ivory-demand-wildlife-trafficking-china-world/. Accessed 25 August 2017.
2 Smith, Jada F. “U.S. Bans Commercial Trade of African Elephant Ivory.” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/03/world/africa/elephant-ivory-ban.html?mcubz=0. Accessed 25 August 2017.
3 Arnold, Chris. “New U.S. Ban On Ivory Sales To Protect Elephants.” National Public Radio, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/02/480494835/new-u-s-ban-on-ivory-sales-to-protect-elephants. Accessed 25 August 2017.
4 Bale, Rachael. “Why D.C. Is the New Hub for U.S. Ivory Sales.” National Geographic, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/wildlife-watch-washington-elephant-ivory-for-sale-united-states/. Accessed 25 August 2017.
5 “Ivory Ban Q&As.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, https://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html. Accessed 25 August 2017.