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Published on 'Razor's Edge' online critical debate on www.conservationaction.co.za Tuesday 8th October, 2013
Well…this was a nasty surprise. We have all spoken about ivory openly being sold in markets around Asia and various African states ad nauseum. I did not think, however, that it was so prevalent in Western Europe. I was in Nice yesterday. There is a big farmer’s market there, which I had been eager to explore ever since I moved here just over a week ago. Unfortunately for me Monday is the only day of the week that the farmers take a break. In it’s place is a sort of flea/antique market. Strolling among the stalls I was horrified to find not one, or two but three stalls brazenly selling large ivory carvings and various ivory bric-a-brac (see hurriedly taken photo on my cell). Admittedly, it’s antique stuff – or so my poor grasp of French could make out – but still, this is France, not Luanda or Beijing.
It appears that the sale of ivory on the Riviera is not taboo, in fact openly accepted, if not endorsed. How many other markets like these around France do the same? Hundreds? And I will wager it’s not just France, I bet the same goes on in Italy and Spain. The sellers and buyers in these countries, it seems, don’t have the slightest idea of the plight of elephants, or do they even care? I’m afraid this has become an infinite front on which to wage this anti-trade campaign on.