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For Immediate Release: 08/05/14

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

New Jersey has emerged as a powerful leader, says Born Free CEO

Washington, D.C. -– Governor Chris Christie signed S. 2012 into law today, ending the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn in New Jersey. This bill, introduced by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) and endorsed by Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, sets a historic precedent for state action on the devastating wildlife parts trade.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “New Jersey has emerged as a powerful leader on these issues. This new law is of particular importance because the port of Newark is a hub for illegal wildlife trade. The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially, so we have no time to waste in enacting legislation. I hope that other states will follow this example. We are grateful to Governor Christie for signing this bill into law.”

The new law entirely eliminates the trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn, except where this authority is superseded by federal regulations. 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 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 recent groundbreaking 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.”

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.”

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, “Illegal ivory threatens the very existence of elephants on the face of the Earth. We know [this bill] will be an inspiration to other states, Congress, and, indeed, other countries in the world to follow our lead.”

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization 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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