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Californians Overwhelmingly Support Ending Elephant Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Trade

The HSUS, Oakland Zoo, CAZA, Wildlife Conservation Society, IFAW, PAWS, Born Free USA and NRDC Commission Poll

A recent statewide poll shows that California voters of both parties overwhelmingly support – by a more than 10-to-1 margin – closing the loophole in California’s decades-old elephant ivory sales ban and ending rhino horn trade. These polling results were consistent across every major demographic segment of California voters.

Ninety-six African elephants are poached every day, on average, and both elephants and rhinos have reached a crisis point. Assembly Bill 96, co-authored by Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), which would strengthen California’s protections for these species, faces its first vote in the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife tomorrow, March 10 at the State Capitol.

Below are a few other highlights from the survey:

  • California voters understand that African elephants and rhinoceroses face a very serious threat of becoming extinct.
  • Eighty-four percent of Californians support AB 96, with two-thirds of Californians strongly supportive.
  • Voters support a law that is clear and free of loopholes: Fewer than one in three voters would oppose a law that doesn’t exempt some musical instruments and antiques; only 27 percent of voters see limitations on sales of guns containing ivory as a reason to oppose the proposal.
  • A majority of gun owners, Republicans, and Asian Pacific Islanders support banning the elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn sales.

“The slaughter of elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns is as senseless as it is cruel,” said Speaker Atkins. “California recognized that and enacted a law almost 40 years ago to end the ivory trade here, but that law needs strengthening in order to be effective. AB 96 closes the loophole that allows the illegal ivory trade to continue to flourish and adds real enforcement teeth to the law so California can do our part to end the slaughter.”

“Elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered and mutilated at an unprecedented rate and driven to extinction due to demand for their tusks and horns,” said Sen. Lara. “If we are serious about protecting endangered species and ensuring that they will be here for future generations to appreciate, California must take a decisive step in stopping, once and for all, the sale or trade of ivory and rhinos horns.”

The polling results come on the heels of the Chinese government’s announcement last week of a one-year ban on the import of certain carved African elephant ivory products, the burning of nearly 15 tonnes of confiscated elephant ivory by the government of Kenya last Tuesday, and a recent investigation revealing that California continues to provide the largest market for illegal ivory outside of Asia. The elephant poaching crisis has reached a tipping point where more elephants are being killed than born each year. Terrorist groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebels and Sudan’s Janjaweed militia have all been linked to poaching to finance their military and criminal operations.

Media Contacts:
The HSUS: Jennifer Fearing; (916) 992-3667
Oakland Zoo: Nicky Mora, (510) 632-9525 x13
WCS: Stephen Sautner, (718) 220-3682
PAWS: Catherine Doyle, (323) 301-5730
Born Free USA: Rodi Rosensweig (203) 270-8929
NRDC: Kimiko Martinez, (310) 434-2344
CAZA: (619) 685-3221
IFAW: (800) 932-4329