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Photos of elephant tusks weighing 105 pounds bound for Hong Kong, from Li's email. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Today, the U.S. government announced it will clamp down on the ivory trade, effectively halting commercial sales in response to global poaching concerns.

Below is a Department of the Interior explained on the ban:

  The ban will impose new restrictions on the import, export, and commercial sale of elephant ivory within the United States, with some limited exceptions. The limited exceptions include a narrow class of antiques that are exempt from regulation under the Endangered Species Act; and items imported for commercial purposes before international commercial trade in these species was prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Anyone proposing to sell elephant ivory or rhino horn would be responsible to document that they are exempt. The Service expects this to be a small fraction of the current domestic trade.

Anyone who currently owns legally obtained ivory may keep it.

The Service will:

Prohibit Commercial Import of African Elephant Ivory: All commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques, will be prohibited.

Prohibit Commercial Export of Elephant Ivory: All commercial exports will be prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, certain noncommercial items, and in exceptional circumstances permitted under the Endangered Species Act.

Significantly Restrict Domestic Resale of Elephant Ivory: We will finalize a proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an exemption document.

Clarify the Definition of “Antique”: To qualify as an antique, an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the Endangered Species Act. The onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.

Restore Endangered Species Act Protection for African Elephants: We will revoke a previous Fish and Wildlife Service special rule that had relaxed Endangered Species Act restrictions on African elephant ivory trade.

Support Limited Sport-hunting of African Elephants: We will limit the number of African elephant sport-hunted trophies that an individual can import to two per hunter per year.

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