Antiques Roadshow to Stop Featuring Ivory Tusks
June 4, 2014—Wildlife Conservation Society Press Release—
The Wildlife Conservation Society is pleased to learn that Antiques Roadshow on PBS will no longer feature carved ivory tusks on air. In addition, the show has removed past appraisals from the series archive.
“On behalf of WCS and all of the 96 Elephants campaign partners, we commend Antiques Roadshow on their decision to cease appraisals of ivory tusks,” said John Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of WCS’s 96 Elephants Campaign. “It is vital to the survival of this iconic species that we limit the demand of ivory products. These policies are an important step in assuring these items are not glorified on-air and the assumed monetary value is not a factor. We look forward to working with Antiques Roadshow in the coming months.”
The decision comes as Africa’s elephant’s struggle for survival due to ivory poaching. Scientists estimate elephant numbers have plummeted by 76 percent due largely to the demand of elephant ivory with an estimated 35,000 slaughtered by poachers in 2012 alone.
Antiques Roadshow, produced by WGBH Boston, has worked closely with USFWS to stay up-to-date on this issue, and now has an open dialogue with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
According to the show’s producers, when featuring antique objects made from ESA materials, such as a historical portrait on ivory or a musical instrument with an ivory inlay, Antiques Roadshow strives to offer context and use the appraisal as an opportunity to educate its viewers not only about the historical and cultural significance of the object, but also about the larger issues at hand.
According to the policy published on their website, Antiques Roadshow only features items in accord with U.S. law, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), U.S. regulations for implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and other applicable laws. Antiques Roadshow has not taped any ivory tusk appraisals for the last three seasons (the last one was filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the series 16th season).
Adds Calvelli: “One of the 96 Elephant’s campaign goals is to educate the public about the ivory crisis. Antiques with proper provenance that contain de minimis amounts of ivory are not the target of the campaign. We want to stop the poaching of elephants so the species can recover and survive. Antiques Roadshow’s commitment to educating their viewers about the ivory crisis and the issues surrounding it could directly impact the demand for ivory, both legal and illegal, in the United States.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society launched the 96 Elephants campaign in September in support of the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) commitment to end the crisis facing Africa’s elephants. The campaign was named for the number of elephants gunned down each day for their ivory.
Recent changes to federal law announced by the Obama administration have sharply changed legislation surrounding the legal sales of ivory and have essentially banned the sale of most ivory in the United States. In addition, several states including New York are considering legislation that would close existing legal loopholes and ban the sale of all ivory.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission.
WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa’s elephants and end the current poaching and ivory trafficking crisis. In September, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign (www.96elephants.org) to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) “Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants” by stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand. The WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective moratoria on domestic sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.