The African Elephant Conservation Act (“Act”) is a federal legislation enacted in 1988 to perpetuate healthy populations of African elephants [16 USCS § 4201]. The Act provides additional protection for African elephants. Additionally, it authorizes financial assistance for African elephant conservation programs; requires review of these programs; provides for the establishment of an African Elephant Conservation Fund; establishes moratoria on ivory import if specific criteria are not met; requires annual reports to Congress; creates criminal and civil penalties for illegal ivory import or export; exempts sport-hunted elephant trophies; and allows for payment of rewards.
Some important provisions of the Act are:
The Secretary of the Interior will provide financial assistance for approved projects, research, conservation, management, or protection of African elephants. The Multinational Species Conservation Fund is used to provide financial assistance. [16 USCS § 4211]
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for reviewing current elephant conservation programs in Africa. Criteria are established for declaring and removing moratoria on ivory imports from source countries and from intermediary countries based upon the results of these reviews. [16 USCS § 4221]
The Secretary of the Interior will establish a moratorium on the importation of raw and worked ivory from an ivory producing country if the ivory import criteria are not met. [16 USCS § 4222]
The Act places restrictions on ivory import. Importing raw ivory from any country other than an ivory producing country; importing raw or worked ivory that was exported from an ivory producing country in violation of that country's laws or of the CITES Ivory Control System; importing worked ivory, other than personal effects, from any country unless that country has certified that such ivory was derived from legal sources; and importing raw or worked ivory from a country for which a moratorium is in effect are all prohibited under the Act. Export raw ivory from the U.S. is also unlawful [16 USCS § 4223]. Import of sport-hunted African elephant trophies is exempted from any moratoria imposed by the Secretary of the Interior.
Criminal and civil penalties and enforcement procedures are defined in 16 USCS § 4224.
Upon the Secretary of Interior’s recommendation, the Secretary of the Treasury will pay a reward to any person who provides information which leads to a civil penalty or a criminal conviction under the Act. [16 USCS § 4225]