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Elephant ivory imports allowed into the USA - Rednecks versus villagers

22/03/2010 23:28:59

It is legal for Americans to shoot elephants and import the ivory into the USA. Photo credit International Foundation for the Conservation of Wildlife (IGF Foundation)

Elephant hide belts and purses, and maps of Africa made from elephants ears all recommended by hunting outfit

By Powell Ettinger - Editor 

March 2010. Wildlife Extra was under the misapprehension that it was illegal to import ivory into the USA. Given the very recent decision by CITES to prevent Tanzania and Zambia from down listing the elephants to appendix 2, Wildlife Extra is speechless to discover that it is perfectly legal to kill wild elephants in some parts of Africa, including Tanzania, and then import the tusks, skin and other disgusting mementos into the USA.

A very quick check on the web found that big game hunting outfits still market elephant hunts in the USA, and recommend some disgusting options, including making a map of Africa from elephants ears. A hunting outfit that we contacted told us:-

"Bringing back to the states you are allowed to bring the Ivory, and the hide. Most clients have things made from the hide; belts, ladies purses & gun cases. There are many things that can be made out of the leather. Also stoles are made from the feet if you want them made. The ivory is done two ways, a shoulder mount or the guys have them mounted on stands, and some even have the big five done.

Another great thing if you are not doing a shoulder mount is to have one off the ears painted as the ear looks just like Africa.

For an example you can get a 10 day hunt for a 30 to 50lb (of ivory) elephant for $18,000."

US ivory regulations
We checked the US government regulations, and discovered the following:-

In general, export of raw African and Asian elephant ivory from the United States is prohibited. Import of raw African elephant ivory, with the exception of sport-hunted trophies, has been banned since the 1989 moratorium. African elephant ivory can be legally owned or bought and sold within the United States providing it meets ESA requirements and State laws. Worked African elephant ivory acquired before its 1978 ESA listing or antique ivory (over 100 years old) may be imported or exported for non-commercial purposes or, in limited situations, for commercial purposes with a certification from the Service. To date, no commercial import of non-antique African elephant ivory has been permitted under the AECA.

African elephant ivory within the United States that was imported prior to the 1989 ban, imported as sport-hunted trophies, or obtained as the result of Federal law enforcement action is considered legal.

Justice? Villagers versus Rednecks
The logic of this is beyond us. Why is it illegal for poor villagers to kill an elephant to earn a few dollars to feed their family, when it is OK for some redneck to pay $18,000 to kill an elephant and have its ears made into a map? The redneck gets an import licence from the US while the poor villager gets 5 years or worse.

Where else is it legal to import ivory?
I don't know the regulations on ivory imports from many other countries, but would be interested to know them from Australia, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Canada, or any other countries, so let us know where else it is legal to import ivory.

Comment on the location and tell us what you saw there

Victoria C.

I realise that there is an aspect of 'conservation' that argues for slaughter but in reality withhout man's interference the balance of nature would be a lot more diverse and plentiful than it is now. Horrific deaths by hunters or the mass extermination from the likes of Mugabe have been excused as either necessary or not of any significance. Elephants hacked to pieces before even killing them,tusks ripped from them or trunks cut off to give a slow agonising death deprived of sustenance.

Elephants are already mistreat by circus firms like Ringling Bros., hunted for ivory and seperated from close family groups by people who want them for 'entertainment', attitudes should change to become less detached

Posted by: Victoria | 11 Sep 2012 03:39:21

mixed views and this is not surprising

I think this is quite terrible that elephant ivory can be imported into the US if the animal is hunted as a legal trophy, but I'm not surprised because there are many elephant hunting outfitters. Seems like a very easy loophole through the CITES ivory ban.

I don't think elephants should be killed because they are very intelligent creatures with close social bonds. I realize population control is needed, especially in South Africa where the elephants are overgrazing their habitat, but I think contraception and relocation are the best methods of spreading out the population. Even better would be to expand the protected habitat.

Posted by: Alec A | 16 Dec 2010 21:16:43

Money talks........

"Them that has, gets" as a friend of mine used to say.

Pity, but then we keep allowing it to happen, stupidity reigns.

It may get even worse now that corporations have the rights of individual citizens.

Posted by: Sandra Hagen | 24 Apr 2010 21:33:42


ORIGINAL Elephant Painting

Posted by: steven warner | 06 Apr 2010 12:47:11

mark jones, hunting for food YES, hunting for sport LOSER, kama can be a bitch!!!

Posted by: steven warner | 06 Apr 2010 12:22:15


So the photo is of an elephant that has been poached, not hunted. Obvious, as the tusks have been hacked off, and there is about 3 tons of good meat left to rot.
And yet this article is about hunting and ivory trade there from. Why use a poaching scene then?
Please try understand something here. Hunting is not about whether you like it or not. It is an industry that has its place within conservation. Conservation is not there to be liked, it is the utilisation and management of your wildlife in your country, done in such a way, that the next generation gets to utilise and manage just as much. As a result, no country actually practices conservation today. A sad, but true fact.
A big problem with the general public is that there seems to be a drive to save an animals life. You can't. You need to save species, and even more so, their habitat. Africa might be big, with big reserves, but we also have big animals that take up loads of space. You overpopulate, they overeat. Then, you have nothing left. A long and involved story, cut down to a few words, not easily done. Lets not forget that the hunting industry pretty much single handedly saved the white rhino from extinction. They were down to about 50 left. There are now over 20 000 in Africa. Why aren't those stories published when we talk about hunting. The professional hunting industry in Africa, for all its bad points, works. Those animals are worth lots of money, both dead and alive. The locals get jobs, food, and learn about the importance of wildlife for future generations. All of that animal is utilised, unlike in poaching, for food, products, and trophies. I presume most of us wear, or use animal products? Is it so much different when it is a wild animal as apposed to a cow or sheep?
BTW, I don't like the hunting industry either, but I support it 100% as I have personally seen the good it has done in my Africa. It helps bring back habitat, it helps bring back species from the brink of extinction, it creates huge amounts of jobs and revenue for the African people. Most importantly, it teaches us to respect wildlife, because we start understanding just how important they are to this planet, ALL of them! From the microscopic to the blue whale. They are not just animals that we choose to love or hate, they are functional things necessary to the upkeep of this planet, thus keeping us as humans alive. Without them, we die.

Posted by: Mark Jones | 27 Mar 2010 20:21:11

Nothing new

Im surprised you weren't aware of this. Big game hunting is seperate from the ivory trade (legally anyway). Anyone can go to Africa and kill elephants, lions, leopards or any other animal and take the "trophies" home provided they have the paperwork. Of course, this then paves the way for "illegal" ivory and other products to be passed off as legal by way of corruption throughout the export and import chain. I agree though, legal or not, it's disgusting.

The justification behind this is that the hunting fees are meant to benefit conservation and local communities. Using conservation as a way to justify hunting is horrible, but thats how it is right now. I am 100% against hunting.

As for the US being "most advanced morally,socially,technoleogically" Kim... the US is the biggest importer of illegal wildlife products in the world. They are also responsible for the greatest number of animals tortured for vivisection and a number of other shameful statistics. The US is no angel when it comes to wildlife, animal and environmental welfare, but neither is any other nation.

Posted by: Rebecca | 27 Mar 2010 07:40:52

generally pissed off

first off the picture of the dead elephant is ''disgusting enough'' to get the point across that the situation is in need of some serious improvement for protection of elephants as well as all the other animals in Africa or any other part of the world for that matter whether that was their intent or not ! i also was unaware that importation of ivory was legal in the u.s. which is also extremely ''disgusting'' for a country supposedly the most advanced morally,socially,technologically,etc.and secondly the point that it is somehow ok for the bushmeat trade to continue while what should be illegal in all forms [hunting elephants] is allowed is not much better than the idea that hunting elephants or any animal is right.

Posted by: kim bauer | 26 Mar 2010 15:53:33

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