Customs agents hold ivory tusks which will be pulverized
into dust during the exhibition of around three tonnes of
illegal ivory seized by French customs agents in Pariss.
The White House has announced a new ban on sales of
elephant ivory within the United States, part of a plan aimed
at cracking down on trafficking of wildlife that is threatening
some species, including the African elephant, with extinction.
The United States has banned imports of ivory since 1989. But
the new efforts go further, banning the sale within the
United States of most ivory products altogether and limiting
sport-hunted trophies to two per hunter per year.
Part of the aim is to reduce demand for ivory products, which
can be found in art and antique stores in most large US
cities, senior administration officials said on a conference
call with reporters.
"The appropriate place to observe the majesty of this artwork
is on a living elephant and a living rhinoceros in their
native habitat," one official said, speaking on condition of
The new push was prompted by soaring prices for ivory
products which has spurred increased trafficking, some of
which supports criminal groups, officials said.
Elephant ivory now sells for $US1500 per pound. Africa is
losing an estimated 35,000 elephants a year to poaching, with
total numbers down to less than 500,000.
"We can't ask other consumer nations to crack down on their
domestic trade and markets unless we're prepared to do the
same here at home," the official added.
There are still some exceptions under the new rules, such as
if sellers can prove that items are more than 100 years old.
Within a state, items imported before 1990 can also be
traded, if sellers have the proper paperwork.
Congress has given the administration an extra $3 million for
enforcing wildlife trafficking laws in 2014, officials