Illegal Ivory Trade-China, Vietnam, and Thailand certainly play the biggest role in the demise of the elephant. With over 32,000 elephants slaughtered within the last year, poaching and illegal trade have reached epic proportions.
But the US is second to China in the dealings of illegal ivory.
The US is seemingly aggressive when it comes to seizing illegal ivory entering the country. In 2012 $2 million of ivory was seized in Manhattan; the guilty parties were asian jewelry shop owners.
But the black market trade is fueled by cyberspace. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) states that online trading is definitely an issue in the US. One way sellers and buyers use to conceal their product is by using code words; ox bone, white gold, unburnable bone, or cold to the touch.
I checked into the four most prominent sites here in the US-Google, Amazon, Ebay and Overstocked.com. Amazingly, it took only a few minutes for me to find ivory jewelry and trinkets on Google, Amazon and Ebay. I found nothing on Overstocked.com.
The US law states that ivory from the African Elephant cannot be internationally sold or bought. But it IS legal to own, sell or buy within the US. No permits or registration is required. Pertaining to the Asian Elephant-all trade is illegal across the board.
The thought being that the ivory already present is older “pre-ban” ivory dating before 1989. However, there seems to be no shortage of items found on-line.
Google said in an emailed response to The Associated Press that “ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google. As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them. But there are so many ads that come out every day, you have to be vigilant. You have to keep checking.”
Illicit ivory sold in the US is typically used to make gun and knife handles, billiard balls, piano keys and combs. There is also a market for small items such as trinkets and jewelry.