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Hawaii Ivory Trade Will Soon Be Banned

March 28
1:26 AM 2016

Hawaii lawmakers are determined to pass a bill to ban ivory sale in helping to stop the slaughter of thousands of elephants each year just for their tusks. On a Friday hearing, the House Committee on Water and Land approved a bill that would prohibit the sale of other animals' parts including that of the tigers, sharks and rhinoceros.

According to National Geographic, nearly 33,000 African elephants are being poached each year to get their tusks. Recently, a prosecutor announced an American auctioneer who pleaded guilty to selling illegal ivory and will get sentenced in June and will be imprisoned up to 10 years in jail.  Joseph Chait, I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers senior auction administrator, sold items created from elephant ivory, rhino horn, and coral but declared they were either made from wood, plastic or bone.

In one case, he sold a rhino horn carving worth $230,000. However, he wrote on the invoice that it only cost $108 and the material was made of plastic. He is also a recipient of wildlife products that were shipped into the U.S. without stating them.

Animal rights supporter states that if ungoverned, Hawaii might be the biggest country's ivory market.  Federal officials mentioned that the state is an important place for smugglers seeking to market illegal ivory since it's a passport to Asia, Hawaii News Now reports.

In Africa, a large number of elephant and rhino populations are being reduced drastically by the rhino horn and elephant ivory trade. In the U.S., it is illegal to buy and sell ivory products except if the item can be proven as a genuine antique. It means that it's already in the country before 1990, the time when an international ban on the ivory trade was implemented or possesses a certificate authenticating that it was acquired from the wild before 1976.

Scrimshaw store owners in Hawaii are concerned that they might close their stores to the public. One is Cheryl Konrad, owner of Lahaina Scrimshaw, spent 35 years educating her visitors regarding the centuries-old scrimshaw history. Her store shelves are filled with local artists' etchings on fossilized walrus and mammoth ivory. She is concerned that if a bill was to pass the ban of ivory sale this year, she doesn't have any choice but to close her store, as reported by MSN.

"I just hope to God that we are able to continue on for a few more short years," Konrad said.

Both Senate and Hawaii House have approved their own translation of bills that bans the sale of ivory, shark and rhino horn. The bills include some exclusions such as the age of ivory and its cultural uses.

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