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New research provides baseline for evaluating effectiveness of US ban on ivory trade

08 / 08 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

Last year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a “near-total ban” on the commercial trade of elephant ivory after years of campaigning by environmental and conservation groups who said the closure of ivory markets in the United States and other major hubs in the international ivory trade were necessary to help halt the poaching crisis decimating elephant populations across Africa and Asia. Now, new research led by wildlife trade monitoring NGO TRAFFIC released last week provides a baseline for the state of the ivory market in the U.S. at the time the ban went into effect — which future monitoring efforts will rely on in order to determine the impacts of the legislative and regulatory changes made by the FWS a year ago. The final rule issued by the FWS — which revised the Endangered Species Act — was enacted on July 6, 2016, limiting the legal ivory trade to antiques more than 100 years old (as well as some pre-existing manufactured products that contain less than 200 grams of ivory). Prior to the new rule, sales of ivory were permitted if it was imported to the U.S. before 1978, the year the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) was first listed as endangered in the country, which critics said created a loophole that facilitated the laundering of ivory from newly killed elephants. To establish a baseline for US elephant ivory markets, researchers with TRAFFIC, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) surveyed both…

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