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For Immediate Release: 06/16/14

Born Free USA Applauds New Jersey Legislature for Passing Historic Ban on Ivory and Rhino Horn Trade

S. 2012/A. 3128 will prohibit sale of ivory and rhino horn

Washington, D.C. -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, commends the New Jersey legislature for passing S. 2012/A. 3128. Introduced by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), the bill seeks to eliminate the trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn. Illegal trafficking of these wildlife products is directly responsible for shocking declines in wild populations in recent years, and this bill is a crucial step toward reducing the target market.

According to Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially. As the second largest ivory market in the world, the United States bears a significant responsibility to act now. New Jersey is of particular importance because the port of Newark is a hub for illegal wildlife trade.”

According to Born Free USA, the elephant poaching crisis has become increasingly severe over the past several years, and it is estimated that more than 86,000 elephants have been poached since January 2012. “If the killing rate continues, certain African elephant populations could be extinct within a decade,” says Roberts. “As proven in our new report, Ivory’s Curse, illegal ivory trafficking is exploited by transnational criminal networks that enable terrorism, weapons, and human trafficking, feeding devastating violence and instability in Africa.”

Additionally, all five rhino species are in serious danger due to poaching. Africa’s black rhinos are critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 5,000. There are only 3,000 one-horned rhinos remaining in India and Nepal, and Southeast Asia’s Sumatran and Javan rhinos number only in the hundreds and tens, respectively. The horns, made of a substance akin to fingernails, are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite conclusive evidence that they have no curative properties, hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns every year.

Senator Lesniak, a leader in wildlife trafficking legislation, stated, “The illegal trade in ivory products for which Port Newark-Elizabeth is a major factor also contributes to organized crime, not only throughout the world but also here in the state of New Jersey. Also, we don’t exist as a state in isolation. We’re part of a worldwide population that’s concerned not only about animal rights but also what this illegal trade has done in terms of fueling organized crime, drug smuggling and gun running — which has a tremendous impact on society as a whole.”

Assemblyman Mukherji, sponsor of the Assembly bill, said, “Terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab, The Lord’s Resistance Army, and Janjaweed are funding their operations with profits from poaching and the illegal ivory trade. With New Jersey ports serving as a hub for illegal wildlife trafficking and our proximity to New York City, the largest ivory buyer in the country, we as a legislature needed to act now. Just two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney Fishman secured a lengthy federal sentence for the ringleader of a rhinoceros trafficking ring and pointed to the threat to the United States posed by the multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife market.”

Mukherji added, “Ivory trafficking is at the highest rate ever recorded, and it is driving elephants and other endangered and threatened species toward extinction. By prohibiting sale and importation, this bill closes loopholes in ivory commerce and, coupled with federal law and recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulations, will take our state out of these nefarious activities.”

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Media contact: Rodi Rosensweig, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, (203) 270-8929.

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