The trade of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns will be severely restricted in Canada after Jan. 8, 2024, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told reporters in Ottawa on Monday.
“The government of Canada is putting in place stricter measures for the trade of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn. These measures will further limit the ability to transport these products across Canadian borders and increase their monitoring,” Guilbeault said.
The latest measures will mean a near-total prohibition on the import and export of raw elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn in and out of Canada.
However, the minister said there were some very limited exceptions.
“Import or export will be allowed with a permit when destined for a museum or zoo for the use in scientific research or for use in support of law enforcement. These new measures will make the import of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn hunting trophies illegal,” he said.
According to Humane Society International, over 450 African elephant tusks, 16 rhino horns, and an additional 81 elephant trophies and 44 rhino trophies were legally imported into Canada from 2010 to 2021. HSI said 95 per cent of these were classified as hunting trophies or were for personal use.
The group says as many as 25,000 elephants and 1,300 rhinos die at the hands of poachers in Africa every year.
The ban would also be extended to hunting trophies.
However, Guilbeault clarified that people who own heritage ivory artefacts of cultural significance will be allowed to own them, but will require a permit to be able to bring them in or out of Canada.
“They would need a permit. … There would be an assessment. What we’re trying to do is to stop the poaching of elephants and rhinoceroses. Which is why we’re banning hunting trophies. For products that are already in circulation, like musical instruments, for example, people will be able to take them out of the country, bring them into the country. But they will need a permit,” he said.
The minister said Environment and Climate Change Canada will later provide more details on what the penalties for illegally bringing in ivory and rhinoceros horn into the country would be.
“It’s been a very useful tool to fight different environmental problems — monetary penalties, whether it’s to companies or individuals,” he said. “We will obviously assess how they’re how they’re operating. We will be advised and pressured if they’re not working adequately and if we need to make changes.”
According to Kelly Butler, wildlife campaign manager for Humane Society International in Canada: “Canada’s new regulations will be some of the strongest protections for elephants and rhinos in non-range states.”