The battle to save elephants from extinction has moved to a new front in 2016. This January, citizens in both Delaware and Vermont rallied before their state legislatures to advocate for a ban of ivory and rhino horn sales in their states.
In Delaware, citizens, advocates and prestigious lawmakers from the neighboring state of New Jersey made a powerful case before the Senate Banking and Business Committee in favor of a bill that would end nearly all commercial ivory and rhino horn trade in the state. The Committee agreed to advance the bill, which is now up for a vote before the Delaware State Senate.
In Vermont, a group of inspiring students from Vermont Commons School created a compelling 10-minute film about the dire threat of extinction that elephants and rhinos face. The youth and Vermont citizens then spoke up before the Vermont House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources about why Vermont needs to become “ivory free” as soon as possible.
These actions aim to help Delaware and Vermont take a stand against the horrific, terrorist-linked wildlife trafficking industry and ensure that the United States plays no part in extinction. More than 35,000 elephants are killed every year—one every 14 minutes—for their ivory. A rhino is slaughtered once every 8 hours for its horn, and rhinos are in imminent danger of disappearing from our planet forever.
Read more below about the efforts to ban ivory and rhino horn sales in these two states, as well as how you can help.
Delaware Poised to Follow New Jersey’s Lead
Delaware has joined a growing list of states across the nation in a global effort to save elephants from extinction. On January 13, 2016, lawmakers of Senate Banking and Business Committee favorably advanced SB 156, which aims to reduce unabated ivory and rhino horn domestic commercial trade in the state. It is now slated for a full floor Senate vote.
While the federal government has called for tighter restrictions on import, export, and interstate ivory sales, it is up to states to regulate their own domestic markets.
“We need strong laws at all levels that don’t just target the poachers in Africa, but that also cut off the demand here in the United States so these illegal hunts are no longer a profitable enterprise for funding terrorist activity,” said Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, who is the lead sponsor of Delaware’s anti-poaching legislation.
In 2014, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to pass a comprehensive ivory and rhino horn sales ban. Two New Jersey statesmen traveled to Dover to testify at the January 13 hearing to support action to save elephants and rhinos from extinction.
New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak, who traveled to Massachusetts in October in support of similar legislation, led the charge to make New Jersey the first state to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn.
“New Jersey’s comprehensive ban on ivory and rhino horns, which only allows currently owned ivory and rhino horns to be transferred through estates or to museums, has been in effect for nearly a year without a hitch and has given a huge boost to the worldwide effort to save elephants and rhinos from extinction,” said Senator Lesniak. “We need Delaware to continue the progress.”
Elephants DC president Jen Samuel testified in favor of the First State completely ending its domestic commercial ivory and rhino horn commerce. “What’s ivory trade? It’s the destruction of elephants. Innocent elephants deserve human protection, not destruction,” said Samuel. “Let us take action here today to protect the innocent. They sing the earth’s most joyful song and gently remind us that the purpose of our lives is to love.”
For more about the Delaware bill and how you can support it, click here.
Inspiring Youth Create Powerful Film to Unite Vermont to Ban Ivory and Rhino Horn Sales
On Wednesday, January 13, members of the citizen-led Ivory Free Vermont movement visited the State House in Montpelier where members of the Vermont House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources met to discuss whether or not they wanted to continue discussions on H.297, Vermont’s ivory and rhino horn trade ban, this legislative session.
“The consensus was that the Committee realized that Vermonters, who are reaching out to them by the hundreds, understand that their constituents are demanding action,” said Ashley McAvey, Elephants DC’s Vermont ambassador and leader of Ivory Free Vermont.
Leading the charge to save elephants and rhinos in Vermont are a group of talented and passionate youth eager to ensure a future where these iconic species are safe. These students, in collaboration with their school, created a compelling 10-minute video to support the passage of H.297.
According to 12-year old Taegen Yardley, who spearheaded the film: “We have created this short film to help raise awareness about both the conservation and humanitarian reasons as to why it is so important to ban the sale of ivory. Vermont must pass bill H.297, without exemptions, and become the first state in New England to stand up for these iconic species and help save them from extinction. We will keep fighting until we have closed all of the loopholes in each and every state.”
View the film below or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRM6y3XnezE.
For more information about Vermont bill H.297, and how you can support it, please visit: www.ivoryfreevermont.org.