The Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign is urging the popular PBS program “Antiques Roadshow” to stop its on-air appraisals of ivory. WCS says the appraisals are sending the wrong message to the public and are helping perpetuate a black market that is wiping out elephants at an unprecedented rate.
96 Elephants has launched a satirical appraisal on YouTube that brings to light the many negative issues surrounding the ivory trade. These include the wholesale slaughter of elephants, murdering of park guards, organized crime, terrorism, and human rights abuses.
Antiques Roadshow regularly appraises ivory objects on its popular program including this carved tusk from the Belgian Congo http://video.pbs.org/video/2179163203/. While the program mention various legal requirements required in order to sell ivory, WCS says that the current legal trade masks a black market trade. In addition WCS says that glorifying the burgeoning value of ivory – due in part to the rise in the Asian market sends a troubling mixed message.
Said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Director of the 96 Elephants campaign: “Thirty-five thousand elephants were slaughtered last year due to the demand for ivory. We know that the legal trade has a confusing set of loopholes that allows the black market trade to thrive. We believe that Antiques Roadshow has a moral obligation to do the right thing and halt ivory appraisals while this crisis rages on.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is extremely difficult to differentiate legally acquired ivory, such as ivory imported in the 1970s, from ivory derived from elephant poaching. USFWS criminal investigations and anti-smuggling efforts have shown clearly that legal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal trade.
WCS is urging the public to tell the show to stop appraising ivory and help stamp out the black market for ivory in America: http://bit.ly/1mcDTzV
Added Calvelli: “We recognize that Antiques Roadshow has the unique ability to reach a broad audience to help protect Africa’s elephants. We urge them to join our campaign and take a stand against ivory by ending on-air appraisals.”
Unscrupulous antiques dealers falsely identify ivory from recently killed elephants as antique, which not only harms elephant populations, but also harms legitimate antique businesses. In 2011, an antiques dealer in Philadelphia was convicted of smuggling more than one ton of ivory into the U.S. by disguising it as antique.
Said Calvelli: “Allowing any carved tusks or worked ivory – antique or not – into the marketplace furthers the existing loophole for illegal ivory and renders law enforcement ineffective. It sends a message to China and other consumer countries that it’s okay to sell raw and worked ivory, including ‘old’ stockpiles – further fueling the elephant poaching crisis. Our message to the public is simple: Don’t do ivory.”
The 96 Elephants campaign has already achieved success with the recent announcement by the Obama administration of a federal ban on most ivory sales. In addition, legislation has been introduced to ban ivory sales in New York and Hawaii. The campaign’s next steps are to continue to work to pass state moratoria and close loopholes that would allow ivory to continue to be traded, as well as work with other nations on banning ivory.
The public overwhelmingly supports banning ivory sales. A recent independent survey in New York State shows that 80 percent or voters support a ban of ivory sales.
96 Elephants was named for the number of elephants gunned down each day for their ivory. 96 Elephants partners include more than 100 North American zoos and aquariums, along with the Bodhi Tree Foundation, DD&B Worldwide, Enough Project, ESRI, Horizon Media, Hotel Plaza Athanee, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Organization of Young Citizens of Guinea, The Resolve: LRA Crisis Initiative, Invisible Children, and Tsavo Trust. "Satirical" Video.