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Science: Illegal ivory trade across Europe is driving elephants to extinction

Science: Illegal ivory trade across Europe is driving elephants to extinction

An illegal ivory trade across European countries is driving elephants to extinction, warn the scientists. Under EU rules, worked ivory dating from before 1947 can be freely traded, a loophole exploited by those in the illegal trade. The government certificate allows selling the items from after 1947 but before 1990 while all sales of post-1990 ivory are banned, BBC reports. 

The wildlife campaigners say that ivory from elephants still being poached now is being passed off as antique, ivory from recently slaughtered elephants is being illegally sold across Europe, fuelling the extinction crisis, according to the recent study. Another problem in the illegal ivory trading is impossible to distinguish the two for certain from a visual inspection alone.

But thanks to the technologies developed, the new radiocarbon-dating tests proved that ivory items bought in many countries, including the UK, were from elephants killed after the global ivory trade was banned in 1989. The wildlife campaigners are continuing in their calling on European officials to close a loophole in the law to help prevent the animals from being wiped out by poachers.

Europe bans sales of domestic ivory

Although the European Commission has said there is no evidence of illegal ivory being sold in Europe, the UK joined China and Hong Kong banning sales of domestic ivory regardless of age. Prince Harry is one of the supporters of the conservationists, the royal as happy with the UK’s joining ban in April.

The new study reveals that undercover investigators bought more than 100 items in 10 EU countries and sent them to Oxford University’s carbon-testing unit to determine their age. Almost three in four (74.3 per cent) were found to date from after 1947, making their sale illegal without government-issued certificates. One in five items (19.3 per cent) came from elephants killed after the worldwide ban in 1989.

The campaigners are persistently putting pressure on officials, where they will lobby environment commissioner Karmenu Vella. The EU Commission is considering its next step following a public consultation that attracted nearly 90,000 responses calling for tighter restrictions.