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Ban the Purchase and Sale of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horns in Your State

Ban the Purchase and Sale of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horns in Your State

Name: Prohibiting the Purchase and Sale of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horns

Each year, worldwide elephant and rhino populations decrease as thousands of these animals are brutally killed by poachers for their tusks and horns. Elephant tusks are often used to create jewelry and for carving, while rhino horns are ground up for their alleged medicinal value. It is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between tusks and horns that were taken decades ago and ones that were taken last week, making the sale of “old ivory” detrimental to conservation efforts. Legislation is needed to create a statewide ban on the purchase and sale of all ivory and rhino horns, as well as products made from these materials. As a practical consideration, exceptions would be made for the transfer of ivory and rhino horns by inheritance and for educational and scientific purposes. The continued legal trade in these parts assists the black market in selling illegally-taken body parts, contributes to elephant and rhino poaching, and adds to the endangerment of these majestic animals.

 

Call to Actions:

  1. If your state does not already have a law or pending legislation, please contact your State Representative and Senator and urge them to introduce legislation on this issue.
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  • Your State Senator or Senators
  • Your State Representative or Representatives

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Ban the Purchase and Sale of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horns

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask you to sponsor legislation that would ban the purchase, sale, trade and possession with intent to sell of ivory and rhinoceros horns. Each year, thousands of elephants and rhinos are killed by poachers in order to harvest their tusks and horns. Elephant tusks are used to create jewelry and carvings while rhino horns are ground up for their alleged medicinal value.

For your convenience, a model law is included below. It would allow exceptions for educational and scientific purposes and would provide that individuals could still legally inherit ivory as part of an estate.

Elephants and rhinos are two of the most majestic creatures on earth. Sadly, they are currently on the path to extinction. In the early 20th century, there were approximately 10 million elephants in Africa. In 2016, scientists estimated that there were less than 400,000 remaining on the continent. And with fewer than 30,000 rhinos worldwide, scientists warn that the current rate of poaching could lead to their extinction in less than 10 years.

This is a dire situation that needs immediate attention to discourage poaching and to save elephants and rhinos from extinction. I hope that you will consider giving your support to end the sale and trade of ivory and rhino horns in our state by sponsoring the legislation below. Thank you.

MODEL LAW TO END TRAFFICKING IN IVORY AND RHINO HORNS
Sec. 1. Rational:

Elephants and rhinoceroses are on the path to extinction. Although both of these animals are currently listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, they are still regularly poached for their tusks and horns, which are highly profitable on the black market. The best way to discourage this illegal trafficking is to eliminate the market in which ivory and rhino horns are sold. Moreover, because it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between tusks and horns that were taken 50 years ago and ones that were taken last week, allowing the sale of "old ivory" is detrimental to conservation efforts and should be highly restricted if not completely eliminated.

Sec. 2. Definitions:

(a) "Ivory" means the tooth or tusk composed of ivory from any animal, including, but not limited to, an elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, narwhal, walrus, or whale, or any piece thereof, whether raw ivory or worked ivory, or made into, or part of, an ivory product.
(b) "Ivory Product" means any item that contains, or that is wholly or partially made from, any ivory.
(c) "Raw Ivory" means any ivory the surface of which, polished or unpolished, is unaltered or minimally changed by carving.
(d) "Rhinoceros Horn" means the horn, or any piece thereof, of any species of rhinoceros
(e) "Rhinoceros Horn Product" means any item that contains, or is wholly or partially made from, any rhinoceros horn.
(f) "Worked Ivory" means ivory that has been embellished, carved, marked, or otherwise altered so that it can no longer be considered raw ivory.

Sec. 3. Prohibitions, Penalties and Exceptions:

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to import, sell, offer for sale, purchase, barter or possess with intent to sell, any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product, except as provided pursuant to this section.
(b) It shall be presumptive evidence of possession with intent to sell when any ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn or rhinoceros horn product is possessed in a retail or wholesale outlet commonly used for the buying or selling of similar products, provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall preclude a finding of intent to sell based on any other evidence which may serve to independently establish such intent. The act of obtaining an appraisal of ivory, an ivory product, rhinoceros horn or a rhinoceros horn product alone shall not constitute possession with intent to sell.
(c) A person may convey ivory, an ivory product, rhinoceros horn or a rhinoceros horn product to the legal beneficiary of the ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn or rhinoceros horn product which is part of an estate or other items being conveyed to lawful beneficiaries upon the death of the owner of the ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn or rhinoceros horn product or in anticipation of that person's death.
(d) None of the prohibitions set forth in this section shall apply to employees or agents of the federal or State government undertaking any law enforcement activities pursuant to federal or State law or any mandatory duties required by federal or State law.
(e) The prohibition on import set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall not apply where the import is expressly authorized by federal license or permit.
(f) The import, sale, offer for sale, purchase, barter or possession with intent to sell of ivory or rhinoceros horn for educational or scientific purposes by a bona fide educational or scientific institution is permitted under this section, unless this activity is prohibited under federal law.

Sec. 4. Penalties, Degree of Crime and Disposition of Seized Ivory

(a) A person violating any provision of section 3 of this act shall be guilty of:
(1) for a first offense, a person convicted under section 3 shall be fined not less than $1,000 or an amount equal to two times the total value of the ivory, ivory products, rhinoceros horn and rhinoceros horn products involved in the offense, whichever is greater; and
(2) for a second or subsequent offense, a person shall be fined not less than $5,000 or an amount equal to two times the total value of the ivory, ivory products, rhinoceros horn and rhinoceros horn products involved in the offense, whichever is greater.
(b) Upon a conviction for violating the provisions of section 3 of this act, the court shall order the seizure of all ivory, ivory products, rhinoceros horn and rhinoceros horn products involved in the violation and determine the penalty for the violation based on the assessed value of the seized products. After sentencing, the court may destroy the ivory, ivory products, rhinoceros horn and rhinoceros horn products or donate them to an educational or scientific institution or organization, including, but not necessarily limited to, a museum, university, or research group.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]