To Sidestep Ivory Ban, Russia Digs Up Mammoth Tusks

Tusk treasure trove lies beneath Siberian ice
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2010 2:31 AM CDT
Updated Sep 27, 2010 4:00 AM CDT
Mammoth Tusks Tickling Ivory Appetite
This undated handout provided by ExhibitEase LLC shows a 3D computer generated Image of woolly mammoth emerging from an ice block.   (AP Photo/Mammoth Genome Project, Steven W. Marcus)

Russia is turning to the Siberian soil to satisfy an appetite for "ethical ivory." Entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the worldwide ban on elephant ivory and digging up giant woolly mammoth tusks to sell abroad.Michelle Obama has been spotted wearing jewelry made from the ancient tusks of the animal that first walked the earth 4.8 million years ago. Russia is currently exporting some 60 tons of mammoth ivory annually to China, the world's biggest ivory market, and officials don't expect to run out of the goods anytime soon. Experts believe millions of dead mammoths still lie frozen beneath the Siberian tundra.

"Every year when the tundra melts, local people scour the tundra in northern Siberia looking for mammoth tusks," said a new report on the mammoth ivory. Their job is increasingly easy as global warming exposes more carcasses than ever, reports the Telegraph. Elephant conservationists are hoping the old ivory will edge aside the illegal trade. "Mammoth tusks probably reduce demand for elephant ivory from Africa," said the recent report. "This may in the long run lower elephant ivory prices and reduce incentives to poach elephants."
(More Siberia stories.)

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