Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 2, 2016

Contact: Sarah Uhlemann, (206) 327-2344,

Obama Administration Announces New Restrictions on Ivory Sales to Save Elephants

WASHINGTON— President Obama announced new regulations today that restrict the trade of ivory across state lines and expand limits on ivory exports. The regulations are part of an ongoing effort to crackdown on wildlife trade through President Obama’s National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking.

African savannah elephant
African savannah elephant courtesy Flickr/Bernard Dupont. This photo is available for media use.

Elephants across Africa are being wiped out at a dizzying pace to feed the illegal market for ivory products, and the United States has one of the largest markets for ivory in the world. Prohibiting interstate ivory trade is a much-needed step to shrink domestic markets. While the new rules substantially restrain sales, the regulation provides limited exceptions, including for pre-existing products that contain 200 grams or less of ivory.

“We’re excited the Obama administration has taken this important step to reduce the domestic trade in ivory,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The United States has one of the largest markets for ivory in the world and reducing demand here will go a long way toward saving elephants in Africa.”

The new rules come on the heels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement in March that reclassification of African elephants as “endangered” instead of “threatened” may be warranted under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and that it will consider recognizing two separate species of African elephant: forest and savannah, in response to a Center petition. Fewer than 100,000 forest elephants and 400,000 savannah elephants remain. Genetic studies indicate the two split into distinct species at least 2 million years ago, about the same time Asian elephants diverged from mammoths. An endangered listing would provide additional restrictions on the import and export of ivory products, and elevate the status of the elephants for funding conservation efforts.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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