China’s switch from elephant ivory to mammoth ivory worries advocates

The Chinese government enacted a ban on the commercial sale of elephant ivory last year, and the legal mammoth ivory market has been booming since. Now, environmentalists and conservationists worry that the ethical substitute is negatively impacting the environment and the world’s dwindling elephant population, The New York Times reports. The tusks of these extinct giants can be legally harvested from permafrost in northern Russia with a license. But methods of illegal gathering, which go unchecked in some regions, can damage the newly melted landscape before scientists are able to study it. And as long as there is a form of legal ivory trade, conservationists fear the illegal elephant ivory trade will continue. China has a rich history of ivory carving and collecting, which makes it extremely difficult for the government to eradicate the sale of ivory completely.

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