The decline in carving African and Asian elephant tusks in Nepal and the decrease in ivory items for retail sale in Kathmandu


Abstract


The Nepal ivory industry has collapsed since early 2001, when the last survey was conducted. The few remaining craftsmen have stopped carving ivory. The number of shops selling ivory items has fallen from 57 in February 2001 to 19 in December 2012. During this period ivory items on display for sale in Kathmandu dropped from 1,546 to 208. Smuggled raw ivory from Africa and Asia used to come into Nepal via India, but both the India and the Nepal governments have improved their border controls. Wildlife law enforcement in Nepal has strengthened considerably since 2010 with the establishment of government committees and bureaus
dealing with wildlife crime all over the country. All ivory is illegal to sell or to display in shops, and vendors are now reluctant to sell new ivory items and are trying to offload their last remaining ivory objects. Turnover is slow as customer demand has fallen, partly as Nepalese now prefer to buy gold items and also because foreign tourists (the main buyers) show little interest in buying ivory as the selection is poor and there is a greater risk entailed in smuggling worked ivory out of the country. Thus Nepal is not a threat to Africa’s or Asia’s elephants.

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