An African elephant with her calf. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation authored by Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins that strengthens California’s fight against the illegal slaughter of elephants and rhinos.

AB 96 closes loopholes that prevent fully effective enforcement of existing California law prohibiting the sale of ivory. The Golden State is one of the top markets in the world for illegal ivory.

“The governor’s signature on AB 96 strengthens enforcement against the illegal ivory trade in California, which will, in turn, help put an end to poaching.” said Atkins, who represents coastal San Diego County.

“Ninety-six elephants die every day for their ivory. Elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered at a faster rate they are being born, which will result in their extinction if we don’t step up.”

Currently, the ban on ivory trade in California includes an exemption for products imported before Jan. 1, 1977. AB 96 removes this exemption and prohibits a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell or importing with intent to sell elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn, except as specified under very limited educational and scientific circumstances.

Jennifer Fearing, legislative advocate for the Humane Society of the United States, described Atkins’ bill as “a critical tool to close the gaping loophole in California’s decades-old ivory ban.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.