Little girls may be made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but Americans still show a strong preference for little boys, for all their snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.

This is the conclusion of a study published in Family Planning Perspectives, the Journal of Planned Parenthood, based on a nationally representative sample of 6,897 married women between 15 and 44.

The survey showed that 49 per cent of the respondents had a strong or mild preference for male offspring, while 32 per cent prefferred female offspring.

The survey used a new technique to ferret out underlying sex preferences for children by going beyond asking respondents their ideal family makeup or their choice of sex in the firstborn.

Instead, they were asked if they had three children how many boys or girls would they want. An answer of three boys or three girls showed a strong preference toward male or female offspring.

Any other was considered a neutral response, showing no bias. To uncover such respondents' underlying biases, they were asked a follow-up question on what their choice would be if the first answer were not possible.

The author of the study, Lolagene C. Coombs, a population researcher at the University of Michigan, said the study indicated that the women's movement has not made inroads into the strong and little understood cultural forces that make male children more desirable.

Younger women, who might be expected to have been most influenced by feminism, showed a slightly stronger preference for sons than women over 30.

From remarks by Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Calif.) on the introduction of the Elephant Protection Act :

With an estimated population of 1 million African elephants remaining, the giant of all land species may be relegated to zoos and a few protected parks within a decade.

Drought, deforestation, urbanization and competition with the rapidly increasing human population for habitat have also contributed to the fast decline in elephant populations, to be sure, but the deliberate slaughter of elephants for their valuable ivory tusks is the greatest present threat to African's remaning elephant herds . . .

Hong Kong, one of the major centers for ivory carving and trade, imported 710 tons of ivory, taken from 71,000 elephants, in 1976. The decreasing size of the tusks being exported from Africa is an early warning sign that the species is diminishing faster than it can sustain itself . . .

We cannot expect the overexploitation of elephants to cease when a poacher can make the equivalent of a year's wages on the sale of one set of tusks. The United States promotes this senseless slaughter by contributing heavily to the world's demand for ivory; we received over one quarter of the carved and uncarved ivory exported from Hong Kong in 1976.

Only a total ban on trade in elephant products will stop the imports and alert customers to the wanton waste of a magnificent species they cause in order to satisfy their fancy. Partial prohibitions on trade have been ineffective against sophisticated smugglers and forged exportation documents certifying that the ivory came from elephants killed legally.