California Passes Sweeping Ban On Elephant Ivory, Rhino Horn

The state of California has effectively banned the sale of nearly all ivory and rhinoceros products, in a sweeping measure aimed at curbing the slaughter of the animals.

The bill, CA-AB96, will “prohibit a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell, or importing with intent to sell ivory or rhinoceros horn.” Antiques containing 5 percent ivory or less and antique musical instruments containing 20 percent ivory or less (often vintage pianos), will be exempt from the measure.

The bill still needs to go back to the assembly, where it has already passed, after minor amendments were made. It will then head to the governor’s desk.

“We are seeing a poaching crisis that has the potential to impact an entire species of elephants and rhinos,” Toni Atkins, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “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.”

A legal trade of elephant parts imported before 1977 had been allowed in California. But many merchants flouted those rules, artificially aging the appearance of new items and selling them anyways.

The practice is particularly common in California, where San Francisco and Los Angeles trail only New York City in ivory imports, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found last year. The U.S. is the second biggest ivory market after China.

The trade in ivory and rhino horn has skyrocketed in recent years due to increased demand from a rising middle and upper class in some Asian countries, particularly China. The price of raw ivory tripled between 2010 and 2014, and now fetches up to $2,100 a kilogram, according to Save the Elephants. Rhino horn —> Read More