Notwithstanding the ban on ivory trade in India, Uttar Pradesh Khadi and Village Industries Board is inviting people to buy items made from elephant tusk at the ongoing Khadi Mahotsav in Lucknow. Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which India is a signatory, trading in ivory is banned in order to send a strong message against poaching of tuskers.
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In a press release issued on Sunday, UP Khadi Board’s Deputy CEO A K Shukla said during the fortnight-long event that ends on November 24, various items made by rural artisans will be on sale. These will include a variety of items made from elephant tusk, he said in the release.
In India, poaching of tuskers was at its peak during the 1980s and 90s in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu where 2,000 pachyderms were killed during the two decades. Last year, there was again a surge in poaching with around 30 tuskers having been felled to cater to the demand for ivory.
India is estimated to have about 30,000-35,000 elephants, though not all male elephants have tusks. Karnataka is estimated to have the largest quantity of ivory in India followed by Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Odisha as they have the largest number of tusker population. The country has 30 tonnes of ivory, as per a rough estimate. The opinion is divided on burning down the stockpile like in Kenya, which recently set on fire over a hundred tonnes of it, in the largest ever pile of ivory set alight anywhere in the world.
It was done as a demonstration against illegal ivory trade and poaching claiming 30,000 elephants every year. Experts are divided over whether India should also be following the African model, with a well-known expert on Asian elephants suggesting that part of the stock should be used for scientific research work and DNA barcoding by institutions.
Some wildlife conservationists say it was a good idea to destroy it because ivory had no use apart from ornamental purposes.