Culture, conservation and crime: regulating ivory markets for antiques and crafts

Alan Collins, Caroline Cox, Nick Pamment

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Elephant population numbers are seriously declining due to poaching activity to provide illegal ivory for crafted items, sculpture and jewellery. Despite seemingly robust legislation controlling legal ivory sales (including export permit requirements for UK sales abroad) and the that fact that synthetic ivory can now be created to the same diagnostic standards as genuine ivory, selling at a fraction of the cost, the demand for the ‘real thing’ continues to rise in craft and antique markets with very few prosecutions in the UK. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that “ghost ivory” (post 1947 worked ivory being sold as pre-1947 worked ivory) is being sold by traders to the unsuspecting and uneducated buyer. Two key illegal sub-markets are identified and a socio-legal and economic analysis of the regulatory options available is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186–194
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date6 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • ivory
  • antiques
  • craft
  • regulation
  • poaching


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