Conservation groups nationwide are banding together to shut down U.S. markets for the illegal trade of products and parts — mainly ivory — from endangered animals including elephants, whales and rhinos.
While such sales are already banned under federal law, illicit animal goods are easily sold and purchased in states that lack their own statutes outlawing that commerce. Once products or parts get past U.S. Customs, it’s appallingly easy to move them, thanks to sketchy dealers who ignore the law.
State assemblies have passed laws banning that commerce in New York and California, the nation’s top two markets for black market ivory. And conservation groups say the new statutes are already paying off.
But in the nation’s No. 3 market, Hawaii, business is seemingly booming.
For anyone who might think this couldn’t be a very big issue in the Aloha State, think again. An online investigation conducted last December by some of the nation’s leading animal protection groups identified 47 ivory sellers in Hawaii offering 4,661 items with a total value of $1.22 million.
And the investigation only lasted six days.
The worldwide blood ivory trade is driving some animals to the brink of extinction. Poaching of African elephants has caused the number of those animals to drop to an estimated 500,000, according to a report released Thursday by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and Humane Society International.
Between 2010 and 2012 alone, more than 100,000 elephants were killed by poachers for their tusks — about one every 15…
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