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Israel Proposes Protecting Woolly Mammoth Ivory To Save Commingled Poached Elephant Ivory

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Woolly mammoths are long extinct for a minimum of 10,000 years in most global locations. Initially, many conservationists hoped that the discovery of long-frozen mammoth remains — including their tusks — would take pressure off the poaching of African elephants for their ivory.

It appears that those hopes are now dashed, with an acknowledement that the legal transport of mammoth ivory often moves with its cousin’s ivory as part of the shipment. As a result, Israel has proposed that mammoths become protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, (CITES) closing a loophole in which freshly-slaughtered tusks are transported as legal mammoth ivory. Such a decision would mark the first time an extinct species is listed as protected under Cities.

“They are often intermingled in shipment and retail displays, and are fashioned in a similar style. To the untrained eye it’s very difficult to distinguish between them,” said Iris Ho, senior specialist in wildlife programmes and policy at Humane Society International (HSI). “There is currently no international regulatory regime to track and monitor the commercial trade in mammoth ivory.”

A Move To Make Extinct Woolly Mammoths A Protected Species

Kitty Block, the president of HSI, said in The Guardian: “With ivory traffickers exploiting the long-extinct mammoth so they can further exploit imperilled elephants, nations must unite to end the poaching epidemic and ensure all ivory markets are closed. The time to act is now, before we lose them forever.”

The proposal to protect mammoth ivory needs the support of two-third of parties represented at the Cities conference taking place in Sri Lanka in May. The meeting is expected to be contentious without the ivory discussion because nine African countries are pushing to reclassify the elephants of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from Appendix II to I, offering maximum protection for the species.

However, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe seek to weaken existing restrictions on their ability to export existing ivory stockpiles, refusing to burn them as Kenya has done. Zambia is also seeking to downgrade its elephants from Appendix I to II, in order to legally export raw ivory.