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The Obama administration announced new rules on Tuesday regulating the sale of ivory in the United States in a move that aims to further discourage elephant poaching. The deaths of 35,000 elephants per year are attributable to poaching. Grant Harris, Senior Director for African Affairs for the Obama administration, wrote in a statement that, "we are taking action to stop these illicit networks and ensure that our children have the chance to grow up in a world with and experience for themselves the wildlife we know and love."

The White House's National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking now prohibits the commercial import and export of elephant ivory. Within a state, ivory sales require definitive proof beyond that it is was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants. Ivory sales are prohibited across state lines, unless it is "antique." In order to qualify for that designation, it must be "an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the Endangered Species Act."

From the Los Angeles Times:

The biggest change will be that law enforcement will no longer have to prove that ivory it seized was illicitly acquired. Owners now have the burden of proof to show they legally obtained it. If they imported it before 1990, for example, they will need to produce export permits from the country of origin and a U.S. import permit.

Endangered Species Act protection will also be restored for African elephants, and a importing sport-hunted trophies on elephants will be limited to two per year.

The price of Ivory can run upwards of $1,500 per pound, and the U.S. is the second-largest market for illegal wildlife, trailing China for the dubious honor. Both countries, as well as France, have been destroying confiscated ivory in order to prevent it from appearing on the black market again.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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