Monday, June 6, 2016

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes bold step for African elephant conservation

In a significant move to protect one of the world’s most cherished species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed a rulemaking process under the Endangered Species Act to institute a near-total ban on the domestic commercial trade of African elephant ivory. The rule, which fulfills restrictions outlined under President Obama’s 2013 Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking, substantially limits imports, exports and sales of African elephant ivory across state lines. The rule is the latest of several actions implemented by the Service aimed at reducing the opportunities for wildlife traffickers to trade illegal ivory under the guise of a legal product.

During a recent three-year period, an estimated 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory, an average of approximately one every 15 minutes, and poaching continues at an alarming rate. The carcasses of illegally killed elephants now litter some of Africa’s premiere parks. Elephants are under threat even in areas that were once thought to be safe havens.

This rule is the latest in a suite of actions taken by the administration to combat wildlife trafficking including: Securing corporate commitments to stem trafficking through the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance; developing international partnerships with range and demand countries; law enforcement operations such as Operation Crash; and drafting of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which is currently under public and congressional review and includes the strongest international commitments to fight the illegal trade in endangered species of any trade agreement in history.

The final rule will publish in the Federal Register Mon., June 6 at which time it will be available at www.regulations.gov under docket no. FWS–HQ–IA–2013–0091. 

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