A shocking new study reports that $2 billion of ivory was legally traded in the United States over a little more than a decade despite international bans, according to new research from Faunalytics.

The study analyzed the legal wildlife trade, using U.S. Fish and Wildlife data collected from 2000 to 2014 and found that the United States imported more than $1.4 million of ivory carvings and more than $330 million of ivory pieces over the period.

Up to 35,000 elephants are slaughtered each year by poachers and trophy hunters for their ivory tusks, which are then used to create jewelry and other trinkets sold for profit on the black market, according to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). The ivory trade’s brutal toll on elephant populations has garnered increasing public attention and outrage.

The United States began regulating the buying, selling, and importing of ivory from elephants in the 1970s and a decade later added regulations that banned importing raw ivory unless it met certain conditions.  Those “certain conditions” are a big part of why the United States is second only to Asia when it comes to importing ivory.

“Pre-ban ivory” and “hunting trophies” are still allowed to be traded across U.S. state lines, according to National Geographic. So ivory that has already been crafted into things like piano keys and jewelry is legal to import into the United States. And trophy hunters can bring home their ivory after killing elephants in Africa, following a 2017 reversal to national policy that made it legal for American hunters to bring back trophies of the elephants they paid thousands to kill for sport.

One hundred years ago, there were millions of these beautiful social giants. Today, conservationists estimate only about 415,000 African elephants remain in the wild. 

According to the AWF, if current poaching and hunting rates continue, we’ll see the end of elephants in our lifetime.

If you haven’t already, take a moment to sign our petition about banning illegal ivory sales on Ebay to tell companies and sellers that the cruel practice of brutally killing elephants for their tusks will no longer be tolerated in our world.

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