With 30 countries signing on to criminalize poaching and ivory crushes happening every few months or so (France being the latest country to take the plunge, crushing three tons last week on February 6), it seems like the world is finally paying attention to the detrimental effects that poaching has on both elephant and rhino populations.

According to a press release from Wildlife Conservation Society on a new research study, 65 percent of Central African forest elephants have been lost between 2002 and 2013 at a shocking nine percent every year. This trend will certainly continue if stronger anti-poaching stances are not undertaken by governments.

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Thankfully, it looks like the U.S. is indeed getting more serious about wildlife crime as, just this week, a national strategy to combat wildlife trafficking was released, which includes a ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory.

Hooray for progress!

According to a White House press release, the ban will prohibit the commercial import and export of elephant ivory (including antiques), significantly restrict domestic resale of elephant ivory, restore endangered species act protection for African elephants, and support limited sport-hunting of African elephants.

Sounds like a pretty great plan, right? (Well, except perhaps for the continuation of limited sport-hunting – c’mon, U.S!)

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As the press release outlines, the strategy as a whole sets three “strategic priorities” including:

  • Strengthening domestic and global enforcement
  • Reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad
  • Strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.

“For consumers, the general message going forward is buyer beware,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to the Associated Press.

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While we may see the results of this national strategy unfold slowly in the coming years, what it will hopefully do in the shorter term is raise greater awareness about the plight of Africa’s elephants and inspire other countries to follow with similar crackdowns, as a united front is what’s needed to fully combat all wildlife crime and protect its victims once and for all.

Thank you for taking the lead, U.S. Now, let’s get others to do the same!

To learn more about the national strategy, check out the fact sheet provided by the White House right here.

Image source: Thomas Berg / Flickr