10 July 2017
On 30th June 2017, strict new measures came into force in the State of Hawaii to combat wildlife trade.
Hawaiian State Senate Bill 2647, which was passed by the State Senate in 2016, prohibits all commercial trade in products derived from a number of threatened species, including elephants, rhinos, tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, great apes, hippos, pangolins, sharks and rays and various marine mammals.
The bill goes further by banning the trade in mammoth ivory, which is believed to stimulate demand for elephant ivory and incentivise elephant poaching.
Mark Jones, Executive Director at the Born Free Foundation, said:
“Hawaii has shown global leadership by implementing some of the world’s strictest domestic measures against trade in threatened species. These measures reflect the serious threat posed by commercial trade in wildlife products.
“The Bill recognises that the most effective way to discourage illegal trafficking is to eliminate markets and profits, something we have been advocating for many years.
“Hawaii hosted last year’s World Conservation Congress, themed ‘Planet at a Crossroads’, at which the global conservation community recognised the negative impacts of trade on species conservation, and agreed a raft of associated resolutions including a call for countries to close their domestic ivory markets. It’s good to see Hawaii continuing to show leadership by setting such a bold example, which the rest of the world should follow without delay.”
International trade is devastating many species, including African elephants which are being killed at a rate of 20,000 or more each year for their ivory, rhinos whose horns are prized in parts of Asia for their perceived medicinal properties and as a mark of status, and pangolins which are believed to be the world’s most heavily trafficked mammals. Less than 4,000 wild tigers remain in no small part due to demand for their skins, bones and other body parts, and with so few tigers left lion parts are increasingly targeted as a replacement. These are just a few of the many species affected by commercial trade.
“There is increasing global recognition that we cannot trade our way out of the extinction crisis”, continued Jones. “The USA and China have both acted to close their domestic ivory markets, bringing them in line with most African Elephant range States. Even so, many governments are dragging their feet, including here in Europe. It’s high time the European Union and the United Kingdom followed Hawaii’s precautionary approach by banning all trade in ivory and products of other threatened species from any source, in order to help reduce the pressure on the world’s diminishing wildlife.”
Born Free continues to work with decision-makers at all levels of government to eliminate wildlife trade and trafficking.