A new California bill aims to ban the possession of body parts of elephants, lions, giraffes, leopards, rhinos, zebras, and hyenas statewide. The Iconic African Species Protection Act (SB 1175) was recently introduced by State Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) and sponsored by animal advocacy group Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL). If passed, it will be the first legislation in the United States to ban the possession of animal body parts. The bill contains exemptions for articles already possessed at the time of enactment or if possessed by a bona fide education or scientific institution. “Endangered animals shouldn’t be used as trophies or targets—they should be recognized as treasures we must protect,” Senator Stern said. “It’s long past time for California to make clear that we will play no part in incentivizing the monstrous practice of trophy hunting.” According to SCIL, trophy hunting identified as a major factor in the decline of the lion species, which has decreased by more than 40 percent in the past two decades. In the same period, more than 20,000 African lion parts were traded, with the US importing more than half of these, primarily in the form of trophies. In 2018, the Trump administration reversed an earlier decision to keep the Obama-era ban on the import of elephant parts from sensitive regions of Africa, allowing elephant trophies to enter the US on a case-by-case basis. “The Trump administration’s appalling approach towards conservation requires that states take bold steps to protect declining elephant, lion, and other species’ populations,” Judie Mancuso, founder and CEO of SCIL, said. “Since we cannot depend on the federal government to act, SB 1175 is a path for states to follow to collectively help save these magnificent animals from extinction.”

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