Massachusetts State Senate Curbs Ivory and Rhino Horn Trade

MSPCA-Angell and Coalition of Animal Protection Groups Laud Momentum for Ban Deemed Critical to Save Elephants and Rhinos from Extinction

BOSTON, June 20, 2018 – A bill that would largely prohibit the sale or possession of elephant ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts passed the State Senate on June 20 and now heads for further debate in the House.

A coalition of leading animal welfare organizations including the MSPCA-Angell, Zoo New England, Animal Welfare Institute, International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International have joined together to encourage the passage of legislation as illegal poaching has decimated the populations of these animals, threatening them with extinction.

“All five remaining rhino species are endangered and African elephants could be gone from the wild in a few decades if the alarming rates of poaching do not subside,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of Advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell.

“We thank the Massachusetts Senate for recognizing the role our market plays in the killing, trafficking, and demand that fuel the poaching crisis across the globe, and for taking strong steps to ensure that the Commonwealth does not help drive these iconic species to extinction,” she said.

Senate Bill 2553 was introduced by Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Lori Ehrlich in 2017.  One hundred eleven Massachusetts legislators have signed on as co-sponsors.  The bill will now head to the House of Representatives.

“Poaching elephants for their ivory and rhinos for their horns is pushing both animals to the brink of extinction,” said Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “It’s a brutal, bloody practice that’s often linked to organized crime, and unfortunately it’s become a very lucrative trade.”

African elephants and rhinos are being killed at an unprecedented rate as demand for their tusks and horns continues to grow. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory — representing the worst mass slaughter of elephants since the international ivory trade was banned in 1989. Recent investigations in Massachusetts has a booming ivory market with sales of ivory and rhino horn that were offered for sale in likely violation of federal law.

Poaching is not only a wildlife conservation and animal welfare issue but also directly linked to transnational criminal syndicates. Furthermore, the scale of poaching today supplies a $7-10 billion wildlife trafficking enterprise that is intertwined with terrorism and government corruption.  These groups use poaching as a substantial source of funding for their brutal activities, which also threatens U.S. national security.

New York, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Nevada. New Hampshire and Illinois have similar pending legislation to shut down the ivory and rhino horn trade on their respective governors’ desks.



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