Elephant, rhinoceros & tiger parts trade
It is estimated the $20 billion illegal wildlife trade is the world’s fourth-largest black market - after drugs, arms and human trafficking. Before the 1989 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty banned the ivory trade, poaching had decimated African elephant populations from 1.3 million in 1970 to only 625,000. Ivory largely went out of vogue in 1990 after 150 countries belonging to CITES effectively banned trading in elephant products. Poaching and hunting decreased and elephant populations recovered. Several African countries then removed elephants from their endangered species list, and the legalized trade in elephant parts resumed. Opponents of the ivory trade say any existence of legal markets will stimulate demand and encourage poaching in countries such as Congo and Kenya where elephants remain threatened and wildlife patrols are inadequate. It is estimated that about 100,000 African elephants were killed for their tusks by poachers between 2010 and 2012 alone. Terrorist organizations are now using proceeds from ivory poaching to finance their operations, and these groups are responsible for the dramatic rise in elephant deaths. Conservationists warn that if the present rate of slaughter continues, there will be no wild African elephants in a dozen years. Generally, worldwide demand for ivory is being driven up by the growing affluence of Chinese consumers and by Africans with little alternative income. Chinese criminals and embassy officials smuggle large numbers of poached elephant tusks from Tanzania each year. These networks supply 90% of the demand for Chinese ivory. However, after China, our country is the next largest market for illicit ivory, which can be legally purchased here due to a loophole in the CITES treaty which permits the sale of “antique” ivory. The Obama administration believes most of the ivory sold here and claimed to be antique is actually illicit. It wants to ban the interstate sale, import and export of all ivory products unless they are proven to be legitimately antique. Critics say these rules penalize many collectors and dealers who may now be unable to sell their legitimate ivory collections and inventories.

World wild-tiger populations have plummeted from 100,000 in 1900 to about 7,500 today. Tigers are disappearing due to the destruction of their natural habitat, uncontrolled hunting, poaching, and a thriving international black market in tiger parts. Half of the Earth’s remaining wild tigers live in India. This nation also leads the world in efforts to preserve tiger habitat and protect tiger populations against hunting and poaching. It is waging a battle against animal part traders interested in the tiger's skin, organs and bones. Demand is strong in countries such as Thailand, China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Many ecologists believe rhinoceroses also face inevitable extinction due to loss of habitat and poaching for their horn. Yemen, China, Taiwan and South Korea are the main markets for this trade. The African black rhino, located south of the Sahara Desert, has experienced the steepest decline. Its population is now estimated to be about 4,800. The poaching epidemic which began in the 1970s has effectively eliminated up to 90% of black rhino populations living outside conservation areas. It also severely reduced the numbers of rhinos in these national parks and reserves. Organized poaching gangs are the biggest threat facing the African black rhino, whose horn is prized in Asian medicine. Some of these animals are being relocated to safer areas where their safety is more securely guarded. However, the West African black rhino has recently been declared extinct since the last one was spotted in its Cameroonian habitat 7 years ago. Last year, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa, home to at least 26,000 African rhinos, or about 80% of the total African rhinoceros population.

Pending Legislation:
H.R.335 - Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act of 2015
H.R.697 - African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015

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Poll Opening Date
April 9, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 15, 2020

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