Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Illegal ivory widely sold throughout Europe

Charlotte Houpline  WARA  EAGLE  Handout via REUTERS Charlotte Houpline WARA EAGLE Handout via REUTERS
Cary Marshall | 12 July, 2018, 03:23

The environmental group Avaaz say that a lot of the sales that are happening are, in fact, illegally poached ivory that's being covered up and sold as antiques.

Nearly three quarters (74.3 percent) of ivory imported to the European Union is illegal, a study by an Oxford University's carbon testing unit has shown.

"This bombshell evidence proves beyond doubt that illegal ivory is being sold across Europe".

Marktplaats rules state that any ivory offered for sale must either carry a certificate or a statement that predates the 1947 threshold. One of the items purchased in Spain was dated later than 2010.

All items in the study were either advertised as pre-1947 antiques or did not mention age at all.

Carbon dating testing by the University of Oxford showed that 13 of the 18 objects contained ivory that originated later than 1947.

The tests are able to show when the ivory grew on a living elephant, not when the creature died. Among them, 19.3 percent dated from after 1989, when the global ivory trade was banned.

But none came with a certificate, being presented as older pieces.

The campaign group said it bought the items, both on-line and in shops, from antique dealers and private sellers over a four-month period in Britain, Ireland, Belgium, France, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

In the United Kingdom, one fifth of the pieces purchased by Avaaz were outside the law.

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The EU says that previous year it strengthened measures to fight poaching and end the trade in raw ivory.

Media reports in London said the EU's environment commissioner Karmenu Vella has pledged to look into the claims after visiting Avaaz's exhibition of illegal ivory outside the European Commission in Brussels.

It said the study counters claims by the European Commission that there was no evidence of illegal ivory trade in the 28 members of the EU. It will undoubtedly lead to calls for a complete ban.

Europe also remains a major exporter of legal, worked ivory to big Asian markets which is also encouraging poaching across Africa, according to experts.

While the numbers of elephants being killed has dropped for the last five years, around 55 are still being killed every day. In many locations, the future of the elephant will not be sustainable if this keeps up.

Three-quarters of the items tested were also found to be from after 1947, a date after which ivory products can only be sold with government-issued certificates, which none of them had.

How many ivory markets are left?

Sales of ivory are banned in Europe since 1990.

Prince William has called for an outright ban on any sales of objects containing ivory.

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

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