Today we laud New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing a historic law banning the purchase and sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn. Through their leadership, Gov. Cuomo and New York's legislators have moved to end the state's role in this devastating international trade, which is driving these extraordinary species toward extinction across many parts of their ranges.

The legislation amends the state's environmental law to ban elephant ivory sales while accommodating common sense exceptions for products -- including antiques with small amounts of ivory and certain instruments made before 1975 -- that are not key drivers of this pernicious and growing trade.

The plight of African forest elephants slaughtered indiscriminately for their tusks may seem distant, but New York is in fact the biggest market for ivory in the United States, which is itself estimated to be the second largest commercial ivory market in the world. In 2012, authorities from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office seized 72 boxes of ivory trinkets from the city's Diamond District -- all that was left of 100 slaughtered African elephants.

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