US bans commercial sale of ivory

Getty Images

The White House on Tuesday said the United States will ban the commercial sale of ivory as part of a broader effort to combat elephant poaching in Africa.

Under the ban, the U.S. will no longer allow the commercial import or export of elephant ivory and will restrict the sale of existing ivory products across state lines.

ADVERTISEMENT
While importing ivory has largely been illegal for decades, there have been few meaningful restrictions on the sale of ivory products once they're within the U.S. Now, the federal government will confiscate ivory items if sellers are unable to prove that they were brought into the country legally.

The government will also now require sellers or import/exporters to verify antique items excepted under the rules are more than 100 years old and meet other specific requirements.

"Much of the trafficking in elephant and ivory products either travels through or ends up in the United States," a senior administration official said.

Another administration official noted that poachers had a huge motivation to illegally kill protected animals like elephants and rhinoceroses. Rhino horn is now worth more than its weight in gold, and the U.S. is among the biggest markets for illegally trafficked wildlife.

The White House also stressed that the ivory trade posed a "global security threat," with African cartels trading in the lucrative wildlife black-market.