In 2018, Earth League International performed Operation OX in partnership with Avaaz and Oxford University
Illegal Ivory Sold in Europe
European officials have purported that there is no evidence that the legal ivory trade in the EU is providing cover for illegal ivory. To test this claim scientifically, Avaaz purchased 109 pieces of ivory from 10 countries across Europe and had Oxford University test the pieces using radiocarbon dating.
Earth League International (formerly Elephant Action League) managed the purchasing operations, identifying and purchasing “legal” ivory pieces from across the EU. ELI researched and selected the ivory pieces to ensure a varied data set, considering factors such as the type of seller, country of origin, advertising, and price. All items in the study were either advertised as pre-1947 antiques or had no age listed. This operation produced 109 pieces of supposedly legal ivory. The test results said otherwise:
Illegal ivory has been found on sale in 10 European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK), contravening international efforts to cut down on the trade which campaigners say encourages the poaching of elephants.
Following this operation, ELI’s Executive Director, Andrea Crosta, said: “We are very proud of this work. I think it is the most concrete effort so far in Europe to show how the legal market can be used to launder illegal ivory.”
Bert Wander, campaign director at Avaaz, said: “This proves beyond doubt that illegal ivory is being sold across Europe. It must spark the end of this bloody trade. Every day the sale of these trinkets continues is a day closer to wiping out majestic elephants forever.”