The U.S. organization Fish and Wildlife Service announced a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory last week since African elephants are projected to go extinct within the next decade.
The organization said that it was only a matter of time before the ban was implemented, as the public wishes to stop the trade with animals and they want to protect the endangered mammals.
“Since we proposed this rule in 2015, we received more than 1.3 million comments from the public, demonstrating that Americans care deeply about elephants and overwhelmingly support African elephant conservation,” said director Daniel M. Ashe.
At the Africa Elephant Summit in Botswana, Africa, conservationists presented some alarming figures about the elephants, pointing that they very well may go extinct within the next 10 years if something drastic isn’t done.
“This species could be extinct in our lifetime, within one or two decades, if the current trend continues, In five years we may have lost the opportunity to save this magnificent and iconic animal,” stated Dune Ives, senior researcher at the philanthropic organization Vulcan.
China, which is the largest importer of illegally poached African elephant ivory, has received immense pressure in recent years to crack down on the trade.
In response, Chinese government and largest social media site tightened measures to reduce the illegal import and trade of poached ivory.
“The elephant’s future is entirely dependent on persuading The Chinese (and to a lesser extend other Far Eastern countries such as Thailand and Vietnam) to end this illegal trade in what only rich people buy and nobody needs.
There are encouraging signs that the message is finally getting through, but it is going to be touch and go for Africa’s steadily dwindling herds,” said Brian Jackman, Telegraph Travel’s safari expert, at the Africa Elephant Summit in Botswana.According to the USFW, after China, the United States is the second largest ivory market in the world.This has resulted in an elephant being killed every 15 minutes for its tusks and nearly 100 elephants are murdered each day for their tusks.
Under the new guidelines, ivory can be sold if it was brought into the United States before it was listed as endangered or if the elephant died of natural causes, as long as there is documentation.
The new rules restrict those sales to genuine antiques, such as ivory statues, artwork or chiseled chess pieces, that have been lawfully imported, as well as items like musical instruments that were made using less than 200 grams of ivory.
One major exception to the rules will allow musicians to buy and sell instruments with small amounts of ivory, and also they can carry them on international flights.
This issue came up after a previous order from Mr. Ashe made it nearly impossible for musicians to travel with instruments that contained elephant ivory, since they were not able to obtain the proper permits.
“We still have much to do to save this species, but today is a good day for the African elephant,” said director Ashe.