The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a final ruling and revisions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regarding the African Elephant taking effect on June 6, 2016.
The almost complete ban on elephant ivory trading takes into account activities that do not contribute to elephant poaching and illegal trade in ivory while ensuring that the U.S. market is not contributing to the current poaching crisis. These activities include the movement of ivory for law enforcement and bona fide scientific purposes, and the noncommercial movement of certain items, such as museum specimens and musical instruments containing antique ivory or ivory removed from the wild prior to the listing of African elephants under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Prohibiting such activities would not benefit elephant conservation.
The ESA also provides an exemption for antiques meeting the following criteria:
1. It is 100 years or older.
2. It is composed in whole or in part of an ESA-listed species.
3. It has not been repaired or modified with an ESA-listed species after December 27, 1973.
4. It is being or was brought in to the United States through a port designated for the import of endangered species antiques.
Provenance and age may be determined through a detailed history of the item, including but not limited to, family photos, ethnographic fieldwork, art history publications, or other information that authenticates the article and assigns the work to a known period of time or, where possible, to a known artist or craftsman. A qualified appraisal, which may include using information in catalogs, price lists, and other similar materials that document the age by establishing the origin of the item, can also be used.
The final rule provides an exemption from prohibitions on selling or offering for sale in interstate and foreign commerce for certain manufactured items that contain a small (de minimis) amount of ivory – 200-grams. The item must also meet another set of criteria.
Read the ruling [Revisions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Special Rule for the African Elephant
Questions and Answers] to learn more: Click here to download a pdf
Review examples [photos] of ivory objects that illustrate the “de minimis” exemption: Click here to download this pdf
Here’s an example: I have an antique ivory figurine. Under the final rule, will I be able to sell it online? If you can demonstrate that it qualifies as an ESA Antique, you will be able to sell it. However, state laws and online retailer policies may further restrict or prohibit ivory sales. Always consult with your state and the retailer to determine their requirements.