"Year of the Elephant in California": State Passes Ban on Elephant Ivory
2015 is technically the year of the sheep, but in the state of California, it seems to be year of the elephant and rhinoceros!
California has effectively banned the sale of almost all elephant ivory and rhinoceroses horn products, in a new bill that aims to prevent the slaughter of both animals in poaching, or “trophy hunting”.
With the international outrage and condemnation over the killing of Cecil of Zimbabwe, it seems the lion’s unnecessary death may be inspiring new legislation across the world, with California putting words into action. The new bill, CA-AB96, is set to:
“prohibit a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell, or importing with intent to sell ivory or rhinoceros horn.”
The products that have been made exempt from the ruling include antiques that contain 5 percent or less of ivory, as well as musical instruments–such as pianos, that contain 20 percent of ivory or less. After small revisions were made to the bill, it will head back to the assembly where it was already passed, and the next step is the governor’s desk.
According to a study made by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. is the second largest ivory market after China, making this bill all the more important. While the legal trading of elephant parts that were imported pre-1977 is technically allowed in California, there is a common practice in the state where merchants will actually age the appearance of the products themselves in order to be able to disregard the rules and continue selling them.
To no one’s surprise, this measure has drawn outrage from many hunting groups–particularly the NRA. The price of ivory has actually tripled in the last four years, with estimates now at $2,100/kg according to Save the Elephants. Rhino horn can sell up to $65,000/kg. Ivory traders argue that if the bill passes, the state must compensate them for any merchandise that would then become illegal. Ivory collector and managing director of the Ivory Institute in Los Angeles, Godfrey “Jeff” Harris, has also criticized the bill based on his belief that it would create a black market for ivory products: “California should not be party to fostering the formation of a black market and repeating the errors of its governmental predecessors who voted for Prohibition only to see alcohol consumption in the United States rise.”
Despite objections to the bill, with at least 33,000 elephants being reportedly killed every year for their tusks, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, states: “This is the year of the elephant in California. If Governor Brown signs [the bill], California will be the first state on the Pacific coast to crack down so meaningfully on the trade in ivory.”
Photo Credit: http://www.gentside.com/elephant/wallpaper