As part of the U.S. commitment to combat wildlife trafficking that is rapidly pushing populations of African elephants and other iconic species toward extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on May 15 announced two administrative actions clarifying trade in elephant ivory. The changes will help ensure that domestic markets do not contribute to the decline of African elephants in the wild, while also allowing certain ivory uses to continue, USFWS said on its website.
One change revises an order that allows musicians to internationally transport certain musical instruments containing African elephant ivory and allows the import of museum specimens and certain other items not intended for sale. Owners of these items will need to prove that they were legally acquired before February 26, 1976 -- the date that the African elephant was listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) -- and have not been bought or sold since February 25, 2014 -- the date of a USFWS order instructing agency staff how to enforce existing restrictions on the commercial trade of elephant ivory.
Under the other rule change, sellers of African elephant ivory will be required to demonstrate that any item offered for sale was lawfully imported before the 1990 CITES Appendix-I listing of the African elephant or that the ivory was legally imported under a CITES pre-Convention certificate. Appendix-I is the most restrictive of the CITES listings, effectively banning commercial international trade.