Breaking! Iconic African Species Act Is One Step Closer To Becoming Law In California After Bill Passes Public Safety Committee Hearing

Yesterday, the Senate Public Safety Committee approved SB 1487, the Iconic African Species Protection Act by Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park). The landmark bill now advances to the Senate Floor where it will be voted on later this spring.

The Iconic African Species Protection Act would make California the first state to prohibit the possession of the body parts of 11 endangered species, including lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, and giraffes, that have been heavily targeted by trophy hunters and animal traffickers.

“The choice is pretty simple. Where do you think these animals belong? Is it out in the wild, or is it above your mantel?” Senator Stern asked during a press conference yesterday at the Capitol. “There is actually more money for poor African nations and for conservation with these iconic species in the wild.”

The bill follows a decision earlier this year by the Trump administration to allow importation of lion and elephant trophies, reversing an earlier ban, despite the president himself once calling trophy hunting a “horror show.” The severe threat to the targeted animals was underscored last month by the death of Sudan, the world’s last male Northern White Rhinoceros.

“I just returned from Kenya where I visited the grave of Sudan,” shared World Animal News and Peace 4 Animals founder Katie Cleary who noted concern that we might lose 11 species who have graced our planet for millions of years due to the destruction of humans. “This is all due to the demand for rhino horn and the impacts of hunting.”

The Black Rhinoceros, another heavily targeted species to be protected by the bill, has declined by 97.6 % since 1960. Over the past 60 years, Safari Club International hunters have publicly documented the slaughter of 93 of these critically endangered animals, as well as thousands of individuals of other species the bill would protect.

“Trophy hunting benefits no one. Study after study reveals that the purported economic benefits to communities, promised job creation, and alleged conservation benefits from trophy hunting never materialize,” renowned scientist Jane Goodall wrote in a letter supporting of the bill. “In passing the Iconic African Species Protection Act, California will be setting an example that can be championed in state legislatures across the country.”

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom also wrote a support letter stating that “At a time of rapid and alarming biodiversity loss, it is wholly inappropriate to support the killing of threatened species for entertainment.”

“We are encouraged by the Committee’s vote today,” stated Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL), the bill’s sponsor. “As the testimony today made clear, SB 1487 is a crucial step towards saving these magnificent animals from extinction. We are hopeful that the full Senate will agree,”

“The earth is currently experiencing the 6th great extinction period due to human causes,” said Nickolaus Sackett, SCIL’s legislative director. “We cannot afford half-measures any longer. It is time to take bold action and SB 1487 is just that. A bold action and statement by the citizens of California to save our planet’s species.”

“This bill is not just symbolically important but one that will ultimately have a meaningful impact on the ground, while helping ensure that Californians are no longer complicit in driving the extinction of some of the most imperiled and iconic species on the planet,” stated Brendan Cummings, Conservation Director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

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