Get ready to cheer, Green Monsters! California lawmakers have just struck a major blow against the illegal wildlife trade by voting to ban the sale of ivory products within the state. California Assembly Bill 96 (AB96) – which would “prohibit a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell, or importing with intent to sell ivory or rhinoceros horn” – has just passed through the California Senate with 26 votes in favor and 13 against, meaning that it will now go to the Governor to be signed into law.
Up until now, California has been the second-largest hub for ivory sales in the U.S., so the passing of AB96 sends a powerful message. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has hailed the decision as a major breakthrough in their efforts to halt the extinction of the African elephant.
John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice-president for Public Affairs and director of their 96 Elephants campaign, said, “The ivory issue is not something that’s only happening half a world away – there is a major ivory market right here in the U.S., and California is among the largest consumers. Now, California is poised to play a direct role in saving elephants from the ravages of the illegal wildlife trade.”
Following California’s ban on ivory sales, the 96 Elephants team and other conservation organizations are now hoping to get a proposed federal ban passed into law. President Obama recently introduced a proposal to ban the sale of ivory across the U.S., which would help legislation like this that has just passed through the Senate in California become the law of the land. Before this can happen, however, there is a 60-day public comment period in place. You can help to ensure that this ban is put into place, but submitting your own comment here.
One elephant is killed every 15 minutes for their ivory and this majestic species is running out of time. California is just the first step, let’s make sure that other states – and hopefully, the WHOLE country – follows suit!
Lead image source: Chantal Lyons/Flickr