Elephant poaching and ivory sales are big business, but the U.S. has decided to evaluate current practices and take a stance against importing and exporting ivory in an effort to protect the animals from extinction. On Tuesday, the U.S. announced a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which will effectively ban selling and trading of animal artifacts.
There is big money involved in the sale and trade of elephant ivory and rhino horns. Trading these products had created a $10 billion industry. Ivory is worth $1,500 per pound and the horns are worth $45,000 per pound, which is more than the value of gold. But the animals are paying the cost of selling these artifacts. As many as eight percent of the 470,000 African elephants are poached each year, which equaled 35,000 elephants in 2012. In 2013, 1,000 rhinos were poached in South Africa, as well. The national strategy is intended to restrict the illegal hunting, catching and killing of the elephants.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s director, Jeff Flocken, “Every piece of ivory comes from a dead elephant.” Saving the animals from extinction starts with saving the elephants from poachers by prohibiting the sale of their parts.
Antiques have been noted as the exception, but under the new rules, that means ivory must be over 100 years old to qualify. A permit will be required to show proof that pieces were imported before 1990, when a ban was set in place.
They are revoking a special rule to relax restrictions on African elephant ivory trade by the Fish and Wildlife Service, putting normal restrictions back in place. African elephants will stay protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. trails only behind China as far as the largest market for trading illegal wildlife artifacts. Now the government is taking a look at their own practices and taking a stand against the trading of animal parts. In addition, Congress recently approved approximately $50 million to fight illegal wildlife trafficking in an effort to protect the elephants and rhinos from possible extinction.
The ban is to put a stop to the sale of elephant ivory, as well as poaching and illegal trading. At a time when wildlife trafficking is booming, the new strategy that the White House set in place will help prevent the extinction of elephants and rhinos. They are stepping in the global fight against animal trafficking. The department of state, justice and homeland security are to enforce the new rules. The Fish and Wildlife Service has also received $4 million to prevent wildlife trafficking and the animals extinction.
President Obama announced the new strategy just before the conference on illegal wildlife trade in London this week. The world’s leaders are gathering to join in a commitment to stop the sale of elephant ivory and rhinos horns and put a stop to slaughtering the endangered animals. By banning together, they can put an end to the unnecessary deaths and save the animals from becoming extinct. In addition to their joint commitment, each country is to identify a plan to make it happen.
By Tracy Rose