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Obama Proposes Strict Rules on US Ivory Trade

On the occasion of his historic trip to East Africa, President Obama pledged stronger measures to end ivory sales in the United States, widely considered to be the world’s second largest market after China.

"Our countries are also close partners in the fight against poachers and traffickers that threaten Kenya's world-famous wildlife," Obama said during a Saturday press conference alongside President Kenyatta of Kenya. "The United States has a ban already on the commercial import of elephant ivory. I can announce we're proposing a new rule that bans the sale of virtually all ivory across our state lines, which will eliminate the market for illegal ivory in the United States," while further restricting imports and exports, the President said.

Under current federal law, ivory can be sold legally across state lines if it was imported prior to January 18, 1990, the date when African elephants were officially listed under CITES Appendix I — the greatest level of international protection for threatened and endangered species such as gorillas, tigers and giant pandas. The seller is obligated to prove that ivory was imported before 1990. 

But under the new proposed rule, ivory can be sold across state lines only if:

• An item is an antique exempted under the Endangered Species Act, and is at least 100 years old, among other criteria;

or:

• The item contains only a small amount of ivory — specifically under 200 grams — that was acquired prior to 1990. Musical instruments, firearms and some furniture pieces could fall under this exempted category. 

'Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming' Nominated for an Emmy Award

We're thrilled to announce that Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming has been nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award!

This one-hour special that premiered in November on Animal Planet was nominated for Outstanding Nature Programming alongside PBS — for Ireland's Wild River, Snow Monkeys and Touching the Wild — and National Geographic Wild, for Wild Hawaii. WildAid CEO Peter Knights and Animal Planet's Erin Wanner share executive producer credits on the film. 

Yao Ming has been one of WildAid's most influential ambassadors for nearly a decade. In Saving Africa's Giants, WildAid and Yao joined forces and traveled to Africa to educate consumers about the perilous state of rhinos and elephants. The film is narrated by Edward Norton and features the work of WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation, Save the Elephants, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Daphne Sheldrick and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Dr. Will Fowlds, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Tusk Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service and South African National Parks.

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Hong Kong: World’s Ivory Sales Capital

Hong Kong's ivory market is booming thanks to an influx of tourists seeking luxury items — and that's impeding international efforts to end Africa’s elephant poaching crisis, according to a new report released Wednesday by Save the Elephants.

A survey of 72 Hong Kong retail outlets found nearly 31,000 ivory items displayed for sale, with jewelry the most popular item followed by figurines. Vendors estimated that 90% of customers were tourists from mainland China. 

“No other city surveyed has so many pieces of ivory on sale as Hong Kong,” report co-author Esmond Martin said in a statement. “With higher taxes on the mainland, Hong Kong has become a cheaper place to buy ivory. With 40 million people crossing the border between the territories every year and controls lax, there’s little chance of their getting caught.”

Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory products obtained prior to 1990 when an international ban on ivory imports went into effect. But the city's licensing system has been roundly condemned as ineffective, allowing for the sale of illegal ivory from recently poached elephants.  

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Lupita Nyong’o Joins WildAid as Global Elephant Ambassador

NAIROBI, Kenya (30 June 2015) — Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has returned to her native Kenya and announced today that she will advocate globally for elephants with international conservation organization WildAid, as well as promote women’s issues, acting and the arts in Kenya.

“I am proud of my Kenyan heritage, and part of that heritage is the incredible wildlife haven that is in our care,” Ms. Nyong’o said. “I have come to realize that when you know more, you do more. I want to encourage people all over the world to learn more about these incredible animals. From reading a conservation website like WildAid.org to visiting one of the many, unforgettable, world-class national parks. I ask the world to end the current elephant poaching crisis by being ‘Ivory Free.’ It is time to ban sales of ivory worldwide and to consign the tragedy of the ivory trade to history.”

Ms. Nyong’o spent time in Amboseli National Park with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants and at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Nairobi elephant orphanage, meeting with local conservationists and filming messages for international distribution in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United States. These messages are designed to raise awareness of the elephant-poaching crisis and to reduce the demand for ivory in consuming markets. Ms. Nyongo also met with Kenya-based African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants who partner on these projects, as well as representatives of Wildlife Direct, and Ol Pejeta and Lewa Conservancies — all groups active in combatting poaching in Kenya.

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CNN Features WildAid Hong Kong Campaigner

CNN has a great segment on WildAid Hong Kong's Alex Hofford, a leading voice in the campaign to put an end to Hong Kong's ivory market, one of the world's largest, as well as other key issues such as the shark fin trade. Check out the video below.

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