New York Court Upholds Crucial State Ban On Elephant Ivory & Rhino Horn Sales After Art Dealer Groups’ Failed Attempt To Challenge The Law

April 9, 2021
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On Friday of last week, a federal court in New York upheld the state’s ban on sales and in-store displays of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn, rejecting claims that the ban was unconstitutional. The Art and Antique Dealers League of America and the National Antique and Art Dealers Association of America challenged the law in 2018.

The Humane Society of the United StatesCenter for Biological DiversityNatural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the state of New York to help defend the law, which closed the largest ivory market in the United States. Many of these groups supported the adoption of the State Ivory Law in 2014.

Tragically, the demand for elephant ivory continues to fuel elephant poaching. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, an estimated 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa. This translates into one elephant death every 15 minutes and a 76% population decline since 2002. The courts decision to uphold the state’s ban, offers a huge relief for conservation groups.

“If elephants are going to survive on this planet, we have to eliminate the ivory trade…to continue doing what has always been done is a pachyderm death sentence,” Zak Smith, Director of International Wildlife Conservation at NRDC, said in a statement.

“We are thrilled that the court unequivocally upheld the constitutionality of this law and New York’s right to legislate for the elimination of the illegal ivory trade and the preservation of wildlife that New Yorkers care very deeply about,” said Rebecca Cary, a senior staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States.

In addition to New York, state ivory bans have been enacted in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

“This decision is a great victory for elephants and aligns with the international momentum to close domestic ivory markets,” stated Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Human demand for ivory is fueling alarming decreases in African savannah and forest elephant populations, so measures like this are crucial to giving these magnificent animals a fighting chance for a future.”

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