TIME Environment

Obama Admin Allows Ivory Ban Exemption for Musicians

Musicians will be allowed to bring instruments made with ivory, as long as they can prove that the items were bought before 1976, when the elephants were put on the endangered species list

Musical instruments, museum items and “certain other items not intended for sale” that are made of African elephant ivory will be allowed to move internationally, but not sold, the Obama administration announced Thursday.

The allowance is an exemption on an existing ban that went into effect earlier this year, prohibiting the trade of material made from the endangered animal’s tusk.

Director of Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe stressed the importance of strictly enforcing the trade ban and working to curb the “poaching crisis facing African elephants today,” but added in a statement that, “We have listened to the very real concerns expressed by the regulated community and have made common-sense adjustments.”

When the trade ban was announced in February, many musicians complained that their careers relied on older instruments that contained ivory, and that using these instruments did not contribute to the plight of elephant survival.

Fish and Wildlife Service revisited the policy and decided to permit musicians to travel with their instruments, as long as they can prove that the items were bought before 1976, when the elephants were put on the list of animals facing possible extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In accordance with the ban, they will not be able to sell these instruments.

The U.S. is the second-largest market for legal and illegal ivory products, after China. This ban is a key aspect of the Obama administration’s broader efforts to crack down on wildlife trafficking and poaching.

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