One by one, U.S. states are squeezing out the domestic ivory trade.
Following the lead of New York, New Jersey, California and Washington state, Hawaii became the latest to introduce a bill that would ban the trafficking of ivory and rhino horn. The Hawaii House of Representatives heard the bill Monday, and the Senate will hear it on Thursday.
Despite its relatively small population, Hawaii is the state with the third-largest demand for ivory products, trailing behind New York and California. The ban would not cover antique ivory that is more than 100 years old or family heirlooms owned by native Hawaiians.
Actor and Hawaii resident Woody Harrelson has been actively pushing for an ivory ban in his state. Last March, he said it was "our responsibility, to end this cruelty by stopping the blood ivory trade."
Hawaii Sen. Will Espero (D) will be introducing the bill, named S.B. 674 to represent the number of elephants killed every week for their tusks.
"It is sad and disheartening that magnificent animals may be driven to extinction in our time due to greed and false information," Espero said in a statement. "We must do all that we can save these elephants and rhinos and create a world where they can live without the fear of being slaughtered. It is the right and proper thing to do."
There is already a set of federal regulations in place to control ivory and rhino horn, in the form of the Obama Administration's National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. The plan banned ivory imports and interstate sales, but state bans allow law enforcement to crack down on local trading rings within state borders - a crucial component in a country with the second-highest demand for ivory in the world.
The push from states to ban the trade comes not a moment too soon. Last year, a record 1,004 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. One African elephant is killed every 15 minutes, leading conservationists to fear that the species could be extinct by 2020.