Woolly Mammoth Ivory Is Legal, and That’s a Problem for Elephants
Traffickers are passing off elephant ivory as that of the ancient animals.
For 20,000 years the remains of millions of woolly mammoths remained locked in permafrost in Siberia and elsewhere—until recently. Warming temperatures have melted this icy layer, bringing their valuable ivory teeth within grasp and leading to a burgeoning trade.
For several years conservationists have said this trade is hurting mammoths’ modern-day relatives: African elephants, which face a poaching crisis. The international trade in elephant ivory has been banned since 1990, but smugglers try to get away with selling elephant ivory by claiming it’s legal mammoth ivory, which looks nearly identical to the untrained eye.
Now in hopes of solving the problem, Israel wants to make it tougher to trade in mammoth ivory. It’s proposed a measure that will