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U.S. Bans Virtually All Trade in African Elephant Ivory

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a final rule that effective 6 July will institute a near-total ban on imports, exports and sales across state lines of African elephant ivory. This rule does not further regulate ivory derived from other species such as walrus, whale and mammoth. According to an FWS press release, the new restrictions are being imposed because demand for elephant ivory “grossly outstrips the legal supply and creates a void in the marketplace” that has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the poaching of elephants across Africa. “Perpetuating legal trade only serves to stimulate this consumer demand and further threaten wild elephant populations,” the FWS said.

This rule makes specific, limited exceptions for certain pre-existing manufactured items (e.g., musical instruments, furniture pieces and firearms) that contain less than 200 grams of ivory and meet other specific criteria. Antiques containing or consisting of ivory are also exempt. The rule provides detailed guidance on the transportation and trade in limited types of ivory products that are still allowed.

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