New York City lawmakers are taking up a resolution introduced by Councilman Keith Powers supporting Friends of Animal’s state legislation that would prohibit the sale, import, possession and transport of any parts of the skin or body of African elephants, leopards, lions, and black and white rhinos. The legislation, known as the Big Five African Trophies Act, passed the state Senate this year and now needs to pass the Assembly.
New York is the largest port of entry for wildlife trophies in the nation. From 2005 to 2014, 159,144 animals were imported into New York as trophies—including 1,541 lions; 1,130 elephants and 83 pairs of tusks; 1,169 leopards, and 110 white rhinos and 3 pairs of horns.
The population of elephants has declined by 90 percent in the past century, with losses attributed to the commodification of elephants for their ivory, and skin. This is in addition to the challenges they face from habitat destruction and climate change. There are fewer than 23,000 lions left in Africa, according to a recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford. FoA will also be including giraffes in the legislation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has elevated the threat level of giraffes to “vulnerable to extinction,” estimating that giraffes have undergone a 36-40 percent decline in population over the past 30 years. Only about 97,500 giraffes remain in Africa, compared to more than 150,000 in 1985.
“The practice of hunting endangered animals is barbaric and antiquated. New York should do its part to ensure that these animals are protected,” said Councilman Powers. “My resolution sends a clear message that animal cruelty is unacceptable and that New York City won’t support it. I am grateful to Friends of Animals for their support.”
Studies show that less than three percent of revenues from trophy hunting return to the communities.
“Last year, the federal government eased restrictions on the import of trophies from the Big Five and other animals. Conversely, the New York City Council has made animal protections a key priority,’’ the resolution states. “As the top port of entry for Big Five trophies, New York City is uniquely positioned to restrict and potentially reduce the demand for such imports and the restrictions would also reflect the concerns that the City’s residents have regarding the welfare of animals.”
The New York State legislation (A.7556/S.4325) is sponsored by State Senator Luis Sepulveda and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.
Friends of Animals has also pushed for similar legislation in Connecticut. Read more here about our efforts to protect Africa’s majestic species.