Illegal ivory found on sale in 10 European countries

Europe must increase efforts to investigate and control the ivory trade, say campaigners

Illegal ivory has been found on sale in 10 European countries, contravening international efforts to cut down on the trade which campaigners say encourages the poaching of elephants.

The campaigning group Avaaz bought 109 items of ivory and had them tested using radiocarbon dating. Nearly one-fifth of the objects were found to contain ivory from animals killed since 1990, which is illegal, after restrictions on the global ivory trade were put in place in 1989.

Three-quarters of the items were dated to after 1947. The sale of ivory made after that date is subject to restrictions, and to be sold legally requires official documentation.

Avaaz said the findings, which echo other research that has found illegal ivory objects on sale in the UK and elsewhere, showed that Europe should do more to investigate and control the ivory trade.

Bert Wander, campaign director at Avaaz, said: “This proves beyond doubt that illegal ivory is being sold across Europe. It must spark the end of this bloody trade. Every day the sale of these trinkets continues is a day closer to wiping out majestic elephants forever.”

Current restrictions are meant to ensure that ivory from recently killed elephants cannot find its way to market, but does allow restricted trade in antique ivory. Ivory was used for centuries in objects from piano keys to billiard balls and objets d’art, and banning it completely has until recently been viewed as difficult, given its widespread use in antiques.

However, campaigners have grown increasingly vocal in their opposition to any form of trade in ivory, as demand from China has shown little sign of abating and the dwindling remaining populations of elephants in Africa and Asia are under more threat than ever from increasingly mechanised and vicious predations by poachers.  The Guardian

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