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New Measures to End Illegal Ivory Trade

Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary
For release June 1, 1989

Steve Goldstein (O) 202-343-6416
(H) 202-887-5248

Interior Secretary Lujan Announces That the United States
Is Considering New Measures To End Illegal Trade In
African Elephant Ivory

Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan, Jr., today announced that
the United States is seriously considering additional trade restrictions
to halt the importation of African elephant ivory.

"We have already banned ivory imports from more than 70 countries,
including Somalia, and are on the verge of extending the import ban pur-
suant to the Elephant Protection Act," Lujan said. "I am outraged over
the illegal poaching of African elephants and the level of ivory imports
into certain countries. I urge others to doa s the United States is do-
ing in banning importation of ivory from countries that do not have ele-
phant populations. We have reason to believe that some of this ivory is
from illegal trading and that the commercial trading is out of control."

Lujan said the Department of the Interior is extending the import
ban on specific countries and working with the Departments of Commerce
and State to seek international cooperation in an effort to protect the

On May 9, Lujan announced that the United States will support the
international ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory at the
October meeting of the 101-member-nation Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

"We are considering all the options for halting illegal ivory
trade," Lujan said. "Our concern is that no solution to the elephant
problem can be effective without the full participation of the African
nations that have elephants. WEe must also work with other countries
interested in bringing to a halt the massive illegal destruction of the
African elephant populations. We are reviewing this issue carefully and
meeting with representatives of African countries to be sure that any
actions taken by the United States are in fact helpful and construc-

In that regard, Lujan said the Department is providing $15,000 to
send African representatives to a July meeting of the CITES Elephant
Working Group to assist them in developing elephant conservation plans.

According to current available information, African elephant num-
bers have declined drastically in the last decade, from an estimated 1.5
million in 1978 to perhaps 700,000 currently. Poaching for the illegal
ivory trade is the major cause of the decline.

"If, prior to the October 10 meeting, the Department receives new
information to indicate an emergency ban of all commercial imports is
appropriate and necessary for the conservation of the African elephant,
we will move expeditiously to review that information and determine
whether current regulations need to be amended," Lujan said.

This announcement comes on the heels of a May 9, 1989, announcement
by Lujan on a finding to accept a petition to reclassify the African
elephant as endangered. The Interior's U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is
proceeding with a full status review of the species, including an oppor-
tunity for public comment.

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