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Wildlife crime: US bolsters fight against wildlife crime

The US on Wednesday announced a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The Strategy will strengthen US leadership on addressing the serious, urgent conservation and global security threat posed by illegal trade in wildlife, the US Embassy in Nairobi said in a press statement here.

In addition to the strategy, the US also announced a ban on commercial trade of elephant ivory, which will enhance the US efforts to protect iconic species like elephants and rhinos by prohibiting the import, export or resale within the US elephant ivory except in a very limited number of circumstances.

Taken together, these actions will help ensure that the US is not contributing to poaching of elephants and illegal trade in elephant ivory.

The National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking establishes guiding principles for US efforts to stem illegal trade in wildlife.

It sets three strategic priorities -- strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.

The ban is the best way to help ensure that US markets do not contribute to the further decline of African elephants, the statement said.

To begin implementing these new controls, federal departments and agencies will immediately undertake administrative actions to:

- 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: 

- 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.

According to the embassy, the US will continue to lead global efforts to protect the world’s iconic animals and preserve the planet’s natural beauty for future generations. 

Combating wildlife trafficking will require the shared understanding, commitment and efforts of the world’s governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, corporations, civil society, and individuals. 

Pana 13/02/2014