Elephant graveyard unearthed on Portobello Road: IFAW urges shoppers to avoid ivory trinkets

Monday, 12 January, 2009
(London, 12 January 2009) An “elephant graveyard” was uncovered at the weekend on Portobello Road by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in a bid to urge shoppers not to buy deadly ivory trinkets.
The 3-D chalk pavement drawing appeared at the entrance to the world’s biggest antiques market, which is also a major European market for ivory. IFAW is concerned that whilst some items are genuine antiques, not everything may be as old as it looks. As consumer demand for ivory items fuels the slaughter of more than 20,000 elephants every year, campaigners are urging shoppers not to contribute to the killing.

Since 2004, IFAW has carried out investigations into ivory trade in the UK and has found worryingly large quantities of ivory items being sold illegally at antiques markets, curio shops, car boot sales and over the internet. As it can be difficult to determine the age of ivory just by looking at it, customers may be unwittingly buying ivory from recently poached elephants.

In the 1980s soaring global demand for ivory resulted in Africa losing half of its elephants at the hands of poachers with the population plummeting from 1.3 million to just 450,000. Poaching is still rife today despite an international ban on commercial ivory trade, with elephants in East and Central Africa particularly under threat. In the past year, elephant poaching in Kenya alone has increased significantly and if such widespread slaughter continues this could spell disaster for the future of elephant populations.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: "Poaching to satisfy people's desire for ivory trinkets continues to cause the deaths of a staggering 20,000 elephants each year. Because it is extremely difficult to differentiate between old and new - or legal and illegal - ivory, we are urging everyone, everywhere to avoid buying ivory. Ultimately, when the buying stops the killing will too."

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