In an attempt to limit the slaughter of elephants and rhinos, the state of California has passed a sweeping ivory ban that will prohibit the sale of nearly all products made from ivory and rhinoceros horn.
Though prior to the ban, the sale of ivory was already illegal in California; however, a loophole in the law allowed for the continued sale of ivory that had been imported before January 1, 1977. This new sweeping ban will effectively put an end to that loophole, said Toni Atkins, a co-sponsor of the new ivory bill.
“Ninety-six elephants are killed every day for their ivory – translating to 35,000 deaths each year. This species loss is unsustainable and African elephants are being poached at a higher rate than they are being born, which will result in their extinction. By passing AB 96, the Legislature can help strengthen enforcement against the illegal ivory trade in California, which will, in turn, help put an end to poaching.”
By ending the loophole allowing the sale of ivory imported prior to 1977, this sweeping ban will also put an end to backroom merchants who artificially age new ivory and rhinoceros horn items — a practice that is widespread throughout California, especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles, two cities that are behind only New York in ivory imports.
The bill banning the sale of ivory states that there are some exemptions to the new ban.
“[The ban] prohibits a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell or importing with intent to sell elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn, except as specified under very limited educational and scientific circumstances.”
Those exemptions include antiques that contain five percent ivory or less, as well as musical instruments — such as vintage pianos — containing 20 percent ivory or less.
The ivory ban will come into effect on July 1, 2016, giving current owners of ivory and rhinoceros horn products a little less than a year to sell their items. After that date, the illegal sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn will result in a misdemeanor charge, a year of jail time, and fines of up to $50,000. Los Angeles County Senator Ricardo Lara said in a statement that the passing of California’s ivory ban brings the state closer to ending illegal poaching.
“We are seeing a poaching crisis that has the potential to impact an entire species of elephants and rhinos. We are one step closer to taking decisive action to prevent the harmful and illegal act of poaching to protect conservation efforts and help protect these delicate creatures.”
Will a sweeping ivory ban in California help stop the illegal act of poaching? Should other states follow suit? Sound off below.
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