Illegal Ivory Widely Sold Throughout Europe

Charlotte Houpline  WARA  EAGLE  Handout via REUTERS

Traders have used a loophole to conduct ivory-related dealings.

The organisation successfully offered 18 antiques for sale in antique shops and on Marktplaats, despite not providing certificates of origin.

Ivory items made before 1947 can be freely traded in the European Union, so some sellers are falsely claiming their pieces are from before that date.

"Because so much radiocarbon was released after 1955 with the atomic bomb test, we can be absolutely sure that the piece of ivory really dates to after 1955", said David Chivall, the lead scientist who carried the lab test over the ivory items.

Campaigning group Avaaz, which sponsored the research, purchased over 100 ivory items in 10 European countries to determine their real age. But the website admitted that it is hard to verify the age of an item.

"This bombshell evidence proves beyond doubt that illegal ivory is being sold across Europe", said Bert Wander, campaign director at Avaaz. One piece purchased in Spain may have come from an elephant whose ivory was formed after 2010.

How many ivory markets are left?

An illegal piece of ivory sold in the Netherlands.

It said the study counters claims by the European Commission, the 28-nation EU's executive arm, that there was no evidence of illegal ivory being sold. Savannah elephants have likewise been hard hit in some strongholds, with losses of 60% in Tanzania alone in the past five years. The US has effectively banned trade while the United Kingdom is in the process of adopting a near total ban on ivory sales, with exemptions for the trade in musical instruments and ivory sales to museums. (Avaaz) A trinket from Bulgaria.

Catherine Bearder, a member of the European Parliament who's pushed for the ban on ivory sales added: "These shocking results show that the supposed "legal" ivory market is actually driving the mindless slaughter of elephants".

The European Commission is now reviewing whether or not EU restrictions on ivory go far enough.

"The EU consultation which closed in December 2017, collected nearly 90,000 responses", said Eleonora Panella, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw). We hope that a good decision will be taken soon, we were expecting something already this July, [it] now seems that it has been postponed.

"Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world's toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations", the UK's environment secretary, Michael Gove, said at the time.

I have an ivory trinket, what should I do with it? She said some items were particularly crudely made.

"These should be allowed to be passed down to family members or donated to museums, but they can not be bought, sold or traded for goods in kind".

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