ALBANY (June 17, 2014) – A deal was reached today on a final bill that, when passed, will ban the trade of ivory antiques in the state and increased penalties for traffickers, a move that can make significant progress in curbing the ongoing slaughter of African elephants for their tusks. The agreement was reached late last night by representatives from the Governor’s office, the New York State Assembly, and the New York Senate.
A statement follows from Elly Pepper, Wildlife Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“It would be a tragedy to let these majestic creatures disappear off the face of the Earth for trinkets and trophies. And New York is doing its part to prevent that fate.
“The brutal and ongoing practice of slaughtering African elephants for their tusks may seem like a world away, but New York is one of the biggest drivers behind the demand. By making it harder for traffickers to sneak illegal ivory onto the market here, we can help ensure that zoos won’t be the only place our children can find the elephants in the future.
“New York is paving the way for the rest of the nation to follow. Together, we can eliminate the U.S. ivory market altogether.”
Selling new ivory products has been illegal nationwide for decades but determining ivory age is almost impossible, so an exception for older items has allowed traffickers to sneak new products onto shelves under the guise of “antiques.” 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 populations to plummet to the point where African forest elephants 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 legislation will address 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. The General Assembly passed a companion bill by a vote of 104-1 last week.
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 expert Elly Pepper blogs in greater detail on the significance of the legislation here: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/epepper/with_7_days_left_will_new_york.html