SOURCE: Ivory Institute

December 03, 2015 13:13 ET

Nonprofit Sues State to Stop Ban on Trade in Ivory Artifacts

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Dec 3, 2015) -  California's new law banning the sale of nearly all objects made from or with ivory is being challenged in a lawsuit led by the Ivory Education Institute, a nonprofit promoting better understanding of the importance of ivory.

Assembly bill 96 makes illegal the sale of almost any product, regardless of age, made from or with any tooth or tusk.

"We think the courts will see that elephant poaching originates in Asia, not the United States," said Godfrey Harris, executive director of the Institute. "We believe that the courts will not ignore the laws of economics even if the politicians have. As products become scarcer, prices rise when there is no change in demand. When ivory prices rise, poachers see more profit. This law actually endangers more elephants than it protects."

The suit (BC602584) asks the court to declare AB96 unconstitutional, alleging that it will destroy the market value of ivory objects by taking property without due process of law or fair compensation. The suit claims that there is no proven connection between trade in ivory artifacts within California and the killing of African elephants. "There are no endangered elephants in California," according to the complaint, "and no proven reason to warrant rendering private property, bought and sold legally, worthless."

"It is arrogant to think that countries in Southern Africa need Californians to protect their wildlife," states the attorney for the Institute, Michael Harris of the law firm Rogers & Harris.

The Institute strongly supports efforts to protect elephants against criminal gangs in Central Africa fulfilling a market demand in Asia but does not think this new California law will contribute to that goal in any way.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Godfrey Harris
    executive director
    Ivory Education Institute
    520 S. Sepulveda Blvd., #204
    Los Angeles CA 90049-3534