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Governor Cuomo Signs New York Ban on Ivory Trade into Law on World Elephant Day

NEW YORK (August 12, 2014) – On World Elephant Day, Governor Andrew Cuomo today signed a law banning the trade of ivory antiques in the state and increasing penalties for traffickers, a move that can help curb the ongoing slaughter of African elephants for their tusks.

A statement follows from Peter Lehner, Executive Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Zoos shouldn’t be the only place our children and grandchildren can see an elephant in the years to come. This law will help prevent one of the most awe-inspiring species on the planet from vanishing under our demand for trinkets and trophies. Given New York’s substantial ivory market—this ban can make a significant impact on the other side of the globe. As the first state to take a stand, New York is setting an example that others can follow.”


Selling new ivory products has been illegal nationwide for decades, but an exception for older, existing items has allowed traffickers to sneak new products onto shelves under the guise of “antiques,” as age-testing is nearly impossible. Additionally, penalties for those who violate ivory trade laws have not been sufficient to deter them.  

Meanwhile, the practice of slaughtering elephants for their tusks is still rampant in Africa—causing to their populations to plummet to the point where they could disappear altogether in about a decade. Last year, more than 30,000 African elephants were killed, and this year is expected to be worse.

New York is the largest ivory market in the nation, and the U.S. market trails only China on a global scale. This law addresses both of these problems that have allowed ivory trade in New York to continue and add to that demand—banning most antique ivory sales and increasing penalties for traffickers.

Recent polling shows that more than 80 percent of New York voters supporting the move, along with many others throughout the country.

For more information

NRDC wildlife advocate Elly Pepper elaborates on the significance of this new law here: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/epepper/governor_cuomo_shuts_down_the.html.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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