I was talking to a client the other day about a zebra hide that he has and he asked if I know if it was legal for him to own and/or sell. I told him I was not sure off the top of my head, but believed, of the three speceis of zebra and seven subspecies, that only the Grevy’s Zebra was endangered, the others ranging from “Least Concern to Vulnerable” and that to be sure we know the rules correctly, I should check with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS). I let him know we can do an identification of the pelt to try to properly identify the animal. I started to talk to him about the issues surrounding the art ivory trade, most of it out of Asia today. As a credentialed and USPAP compliant appraiser, I get these types of questions all the time about appraising, valuing, and if things are legal to possess/sell or not. I have people ask for appraisals and consultations on Asian, African and Inuit / Inupiat – Yupik – Aleut Ivory frequently.
The issues surrounding ivory sales, importation, collecting, etcetera are indeed confusing. I am going to try to make it a bit more clear over the next few days in a couple of paragraph chunks. If anyone finds that I have made a misstatement, please feel free to explain and if you can cite the proper reference.
It is my opinion that most angles of this argument are legitimate, except the illegal trade, and poaching of ivory bearing animals and a recent decision to sell off about 108 tons of confiscated poached ivory. Each side’s proponents of this argument surrounding ivory and how it should be treated get heated about their positions and frequently become selfish and thoughtless, as each sides passion to make their opinion known end up ruling their emotions, and cooler heads do not prevail through understanding and compromise with each other.
Please understand, my comments will be based in two sets of rules, those of the United States of American and those of CITES established by the international community under the World Conservation Union. So, if my statements do not agree with those of your country, please feel free to add to mine, but do not reprimand me for not knowing your rules properly, I do not claim to know the information of each country around the world. This blog on the rules of ivory is to enlighten people to some degree, and I would love input from people in other countries to enhance this information for everyone.
The first bit of coaching has to do with, what does CITES stand for? This means Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fuana and Flora. Secondly, when was CITES created? Quoting from the CITIES website found at: http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/what.php,
“CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union). The text of the Convention was finally agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington DC., United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force. The original of the Convention was deposited with the Depositary Government in the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish languages, each version being equally authentic.
Tomorrow I will try in two paragraphs or so, to coach you through the basics of the CITES convention and what it is about, with an emphasis on ivory.
Greg C. Brown, MS, ISA, CAGA. President, Greg C. Brown & Associates, Inc. Minnesota Sub-Chapter Chairman, The Explorers Club.