Ice ivory to white gold: links between the illegal ivory trade and the trade in geo-cultural artefacts

Caroline Cox, Luke Matthew Hauser

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The United Kingdom, with the introduction of the Ivory Act 2018, is at the forefront of elephant protection and it is hoped that our Governments’ commitments, made in the 25 Year Environment Plan, will see increased protection for other species at risk as a result of the illegal wildlife trade. However, there is a species which currently falls outside of the regulation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) but which can be directly linked to the ivory trade – the mammoth. Extinction brought an end to the Woolly Mammoth’s time on earth more than 10,000 years ago but the genus Mammuthus, since its appearance in Africa c.5 ma, was one of the most successful megafaunal groups, radiating into ten species and found across the northern hemisphere from Siberia to Crete. As the world warms and the permafrost melts, mammoth tusks are being uncovered across the Northern Hemisphere; particularly in Siberia’s Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). There are close similarities between the tusks of elephants and mammoths, leading conservationists to fear that the increase in “ice ivory” heralds a new threat to elephants and our wider understanding of the “Woolly” Mammoth and their world.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of International Wildlife Law and Policy
Early online date4 Jul 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 4 Jul 2023


  • ivory
  • mammoth
  • illegal wildlife trade
  • geo-cultural

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