The Obama administration today announced a ban on nearly all ivory imports, exports, and sales, along with rules designed to make skirting the ban especially difficult. Under the new rules, all commercial imports of African elephant ivory are banned, including antiques. Most domestic sales will be banned as well; there are exemptions for antiques, as well as ivory that meets Endangered Species Act protections, but it'll be up to sellers to prove beyond doubt that their ivory qualifies.
That last change is especially important, activists tell the Washington Post, because it's been nearly impossible for law enforcement to figure out which ivory was purchased before the 1989 ban. "We're eliminating the loopholes that help smugglers launder newly poached blood ivory via US markets," the chief of law enforcement for the US Fish and Wildlife Service tells National Geographic. The move comes just in time for a global summit on wildlife trafficking that David Cameron is hosting today and tomorrow.