From 2010-2012, the world lost more than 100,000 African elephants. At present, it is estimated that we lose 98 elephants a day. The biggest threat to both African and Asian elephants continue to be poaching to fill the demand of a thriving illegal ivory trade in China, the U.S., and Southeast Asia.
In July 2013, President Obama revealed his Executive Order on combating wildlife trafficking, a proposed ban on all commercial trade in elephant ivory in the U.S. Working with preexisting legislature to close legal loopholes, the order will amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to include African elephants. In addition, a new bill sponsored by Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT), H.R. 5052 Lawful Ivory Protection Act of 2014, will ban all commercial trade of elephant ivory, as well as imports and exports regardless of when the ivory was originally obtained. Exemptions for noncommercial trade meeting strict specifications including antiques 100+ years old, bona fide scientific specimens for use in museums and law enforcement, household moves, inheritance, and musical instruments will be allowed for all items deemed legal. Evidence to support legality would include scientific testing, qualified appraisal, and/or detailed history via photographic or written documentation. Furthermore, importation of sport-hunting “trophies” will be limited to two per individual per year.
The need to introduce new legislature is in response to the increasing threat poaching presents for the future of elephants. Currently, the U.S. is second only behind China for illegal ivory importation; a truly embarrassing fact. It is imperative that all countries understand there has to be a collective responsibility to monitor and uphold accountability both within and outside of their own borders. Banning all ivory will not only set a standard for others to follow, but also shows the U.S. dedication to help save these iconic creatures. Hopefully, in the near future. all existing stockpiles of confiscated ivory will be destroyed. Unless worn by a living elephant, all ivory is illegal ivory.