‘Grisly’ ivory sales in Kiwi auction houses


Breanna Barraclough, Newshub

Date Published

See link for photos & full IFAW’s full report, Under the Hammer.

Thousands of dollars worth of ivory has been sold at auction houses in New Zealand in the past nine months, according to a new report.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) report also says it’s hard to tell which pieces of ivory were sourced legally.

“Auction houses provided little evidence to support the items they are selling were legally acquired,” it says.

“Only 8 percent of ivory items for sale [in both Australia and New Zealand] were accompanied by provenance documentation.

“Simply put, the current system does not include sensible precautions – retailers assume that they are blameless because they have not been required to show otherwise.”

More than $100,000 worth of ivory was sold by four different auction houses, including a $7250 tusk at Cordy’s Fine Arts in Auckland.

In total, Cordy’s sold more than $76,000 worth of ivory.

“We were shocked to discover so many grisly totems available,” says the report’s co-author Fiona Gordon.

“We had anticipated finding old ivory handled utensils and inlaid furniture, for example, but in fact the majority of the lots we found were made almost entirely of ivory, including carvings, jewellery and carved and raw tusks.”

A surge in poaching has driven a massive decline in African elephants over the last decade, with recent estimates the population’s dropped by around 111,000 over that time.

“These new numbers reveal the truly alarming plight of the majestic elephant – one of the world’s most intelligent animals and the largest terrestrial mammal alive today,” says International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Inger Andersen.

Rhinos are also often targeted for their ivory.

More than 1300 African rhinos were killed by poachers last year and less than 30,000 are thought to remain across Africa and Asia.

Online auction site Trade Me banned the sale of animal parts from endangered species, such as ivory, back in 2014.