New York City is the center for illegal ivory sales in the United States
The New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation is hosting a public hearing today on ways to reform the state's restrictions on ivory sales.
You might not guess the ivory necklaces sold at jewelry kiosks around Manhattan came from brutally murdered elephants.
But the poaching crisis that is affecting the globe has a major market in the United States. According to a number of statistics, the country has the second largest market for ivory in the world, with New York City being the hub of illegal activity.
John Calvelli will be attending the event with the Wildlife Conservation Society. He says current regulations allow for the sale of ivory acquired before 1989 because they are considered antiques. He says these regulations are not enough.
"Here's the problem: when you look at ivory, it's very hard to tell the difference between pre-1989 ivory and post 1989, so what happens is the legal trade in ivory literally masks the illegal trade in ivory."
Calvelli is proposing a ban on American imports and exports of all ivory trade products. He says it's the only way to protect the endangered African elephant population, which has seen a 65% decrease in the past three decades.