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Sam Wasser quoted in Bloomberg on closing ivory trade loopholes

Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 16:15 to Wednesday, September 1, 2021 - 16:15

A proposal by the European Union would match U.S. and China bans on elephant poaching. But given recent record seizures, it may be too late for elephants. Sam Wasser, research professor of biology at the UW and director of the Center for Conservation Biology, is quoted in a Bloomberg article.

The EU has been vociferous in its criticism of lax ivory trade enforcement in Asia while allowing it to continue in its own backyard. African ivory imported to EU nations before 1990, Asian ivory from before 1975, and all ivory acquired before 1947 can be legally sold within the EU. Meanwhile, ivory dating from before the mid-1970s can be exported from the bloc. 

While such rules would appear to restrict trade in more recently harvested ivory, in reality they do not, said Sabri Zain, director of policy for TRAFFIC, a U.K. nonprofit that works to end unsustainable trade in natural products. That’s because there’s no easy way to determine ivory’s true age. The legal framework, he said, “enables traders to introduce fresh ivory into the EU market.” 

Traders of carved elephant tusks “are really good at making the ivory look antique,” said Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. “They know what they’re selling—the whole thing is just a sham.” 

Read the full article on Bloomberg Green.

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