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 user 2005-09-29 at 10:53:00 am Views: 36
  • #13094

     Europe is ‘fuelling ivory trade’

    Europe’s thriving ivory retail market is threatening an increase in elephant poaching, conservationists have warned.

    More than 27,000 ivory
    products were found on sale in five major European countries where
    investigators went: the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
    Global conservation groups Care for the Wild and Save the Elephants say an active ivory market spurs poachers on.
    Elephant populations in Africa were halved in the 1980s, after more than 500,000 animals were slaughtered.
    Although the ivory trade has shrunk in Europe since the 1989 ban passed
    by the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
    (Cites), the groups’ investigators found a worrying number of artefacts
    on sale.We mustn’t forget that every item represents a dead
    elephantBarbara Maas, Care for the Wild,German and UK markets now rival
    East Asian giants such as China and Japan, they claim.Their report also
    warned that all ivory, even if legally sourced, contributed to the
    slaughter of elephants.
    Care for the Wild’s chief executive, Barbara Maas, said the trade in Europe was predominantly in old ivory.
    “Although technically legal, we mustn’t forget that every item represents a dead elephant.”
    Poor record Co-author of the report, Dr Esmond Martin, said he was
    shocked at the scale of the UK’s ivory market, which was believed to be
    relatively small.Despite having one of the harshest penalties in Europe
    for trading illegal ivory, he found that the UK had the poorest law
    enforcement record of the countries surveyed.Dr Martin also found that
    many dealers did not bother with the mandatory EU and Cites
    documentation, claiming it was too much red tape.Illegal ivory out of
    Africa is now bypassing Europe and being shipped to East Asia where
    high demand is inflating prices, according to the report authors.China
    has an unregulated ivory market and they warned that unless something
    is done to control demand, nothing would change in Africa.Iain
    Douglas-Hamilton, head of Save the Elephants, said that in unstable
    countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African
    Republic, the demand was fuelling “a poaching holocaust”.Mammoth
    problem As Europe’s legal ivory stocks dwindle, some craftsmen are
    using mammoth tusks as a substitute. The tusk is brittle and
    discoloured but prized by collectors.
    Another co-author of the report, Dr Dan Stiles, said that in north-east
    Siberia the permafrost was melting as a result of climate change and
    exposing large numbers of mammoth remains.”There is no way of
    quantifying stockpiles but we found 3,424 mammoth ivory pieces in
    Germany and France alone,” he said.The mammoth is an extinct species
    and requires no documentation for trading – a fact already being
    exploited.In order to disguise items carved from the ivory of recently
    killed elephants, some retailers are said to be colouring it – passing
    it off as mammoth ivory.Dr Martin said: “Illegal products are coming in
    that are being mixed up with the antique stuff.
    “People don’t know whether what they are buying has come from poached elephants