International rights group Avaaz says the illegal ivory trade is still alive and well in Europe after the group purchased 109 ivory products from 10 countries and found that many of these items were illegaly sourced from wildlife after 1989. The findings further support Avaaz’s mission in calling on Europe to completely end its ivory trade and protect elephants.

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During its four-month investigation, the non-profit was able to successfully purchase ivory items in 10 European nations, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The ivory products were then shipped to Oxford University, where researchers used carbon dating to determine their authenticity and age.

According to Avaaz, approximately 20 percent of the discovered items were harvested in 1990 or later. Under international regulations, it is illegal to sell any ivory taken from animals after 1990, when sanctions on the organic material went into effect.

Related: United Kingdom moves to ban most of its ivory trade

The good news is that the majority of items found date back as far as 1947 and later, meaning no new animals were killed or threatened for ivory. While this is a major win for animal conservation, pre-1990 ivory trade is only allowed with official documentation — Avaaz was able to purchase the items illegally.

“This proves beyond doubt that illegal ivory is being sold across Europe,” Bert Wander, campaign director for Avaaz, said in a media statement. “Every day the sale of these trinkets continues is a day closer to wiping out majestic elephants forever.”

The undercover operation is part of a wider awareness campaign by Avaaz to stop all ivory trading across Europe. In a recent update, the activist organization accused the European Union of being open to future trading opportunities. Furthermore, Avaaz claims the EU does not support a proposed five-point plan to protect all elephants from poaching for their tusks.

Avaaz is not the only group calling for the outright end of ivory sales. Tusk, a charity championed by Prince William, is demanding the U.K. end all ivory trading, claiming the nation is the third-largest supplier of illegal products to the U.S.

+ Avaaz

Via The Guardian