By Madison Montgomery
The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s new investigative report and infographic has some rather alarming news pertaining to elephants. According to their findings, the U.S. auction industry is currently not selling ivory in a legal, documented manner. In short, this means that there are no safeguards in place to protect elephants from being poached for their coveted tusks.
Results of the investigation show that only ONE of the 351 auctions–both online and live–provided any form of documentation indicating the legality of the ivory being sold.
Peter LaFontaine, the IFAW Campaigns Officer, commented in a press release that, “Until this year, auction houses and other sellers have not been required to certify the ivory being sold. And although the vast majority of retailers may not intentionally traffic in poached ivory, there is no way to know if an ivory carving on the auction block is antiqued or chiseled from the tusk of an elephant recently killed by poachers.”
Poaching is currently causing a huge problem for elephant populations, specifically African elephants. On average, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. These tusks are then sold to the ivory trade where, later, the material can be used to make items such as piano keys and jewelry. The IFAW reports that one online-auctioneer may rake in approximately $13 million annually off of ivory alone. Experts and conservationists believe that if current rates of slaughter continue, elephants will be poached to extinction within the next decade.
Back in February, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service began to draft new regulations that would require all ivory sellers to prove that their products are antiques–not the product of a freshly killed elephant.
Check out the infographic below to watch the gavel drop on the auction industry!