Hey Americans, stop buying ivory!


Despite trade bans going back nearly 20 years, the U.S. is the world's second largest consumer of elephant ivory products, according to a new study released by the conservation group Care for the Wild International.

Worldwide ivory sales and imports were banned in 1990. But two major loopholes have allowed some trade in the U.S. to continue.

First, tusks from African elephants can be legally imported into America as hunting trophies. According to CWI, 3,530 tusks representing 1,765 animals were legally imported into the U.S. in this manner between 1990 and 2005. After legal import, some of these tusks then made their way, illegally, into the commercial market, according to the study.

Secondly, people in the U.S. can legally import "antique" ivory items, which are defined as being at least 100 years old. However, CWI says that many of the ivory items sold as "antiques" -- usually over the Internet -- are actually newly crafted.

CWI also accuses the U.S. of not doing enough to enforce its own laws against ivory trade, although the study points out that the U.S. has conducted more seizures of illegal ivory than any other country in recent years.

China remains the world's top importer of ivory. According to a study published last year, an estimated 23,000 elephants were illegally poached in 2006 for their tusks.

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