PARIS – An auction house in Cannes, France, sold around 50 elephant tusks — totaling 1 ton of ivory — on Saturday, breaking its previous record in terms of volume.
The entire haul was acquired by buyers from China, the world’s biggest ivory market.
“In terms of volume, this is a new record for us,” said Alexandre Debussy, the director of Cannes Encheres, which facilitated the sale. “Our previous record in the spring was 920 pounds (420 kilograms).”
However, the €480,000 ($650,000) raised from the auction was lower than usual, due to a 30 percent drop in the price of ivory in recent months. A previous sale of a smaller volume raised €625,000.
The fall in price is due to uncertainties in the ivory trade, notably Chinese buyers’ difficulty in obtaining export licenses from the European authorities.
“Tons of ivory are languishing in French people’s attics, and we get requests all the time for it to be shifted,” Debussy said.
The easing of export rules would “help the fight against poaching and save thousands of elephants,” according to Debussy.
Earlier this year, the French government destroyed 3 tons of illegal ivory in a public event.
Although a global ban on the trade of ivory was introduced in 1989, limited legal sales are allowed.
The auction house will donate a percentage of the proceeds from Saturday’s sale, amounting to nearly €5,000, to an anti-poaching organization.