The slaughter of the dwindling elephant herds in Africa grows worse by the year as organized criminals get rich from selling elephant tusks in lucrative black markets around the world, where a pound of ivory can fetch $1,500. African elephants, whose numbers have been reduced in less than a century from several million to an estimated 500,000, are being killed at a rate of 30,000 to 35,000 a year.

Now the Obama administration wants to ban virtually all of the elephant ivory trade in the United States.

Last week, the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will ban the trade in elephant ivory within the United States by prohibiting all imports and — with very narrow exemptions — exports and resales by auction houses and other dealers.