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Definition of Ivory

From the elephant glossary Section: elephant anatomy

Relevant Literature about Ivory
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Ivory is a hard, white material from the Tusks (traditionally from elephants) and Teeth of animals, that consists mainly of Dentine, one of the physical structures of Teeth and Tusks. The chemical structure of the Teeth and Tusks of mammals is the same, regardless of the Species of origin. The trade in certain Teeth and Tusks other than elephant is well established and widespread; therefore, "ivory" can correctly be used to describe any mammalian Teeth or Tusks of commercial interest which are large enough to be carved or scrimshawed. (Wikipedia)

Most ivory importation has been a crime in the U.S. since 1976, and there has been an international ban on ivory trade since 1989. Ivory more than 100 years old can be legally imported and ivory obtained with a proper hunters permit can be legally imported.

Wholesale price of ivory

  • 1990s: $100 per kilogram
  • 2004: $200 per kilogram
  • 2006: to $750 per kilogram
  • 2007: to $850 per kilogram
Source: Sam Wasser

Ivory trade and elephant population numbers

Elephant Conservation has sparked heated debate at every CITES Conference of the Parties since 1985. The Asian elephant was listed on Appendix I of CITES in 1973 and the African elephant followed suit in 1989. The debate centers on the issue of the international trade of live elephants and elephant products, principally ivory. Poaching for ivory increased throughout the 1970 sand 1980s as ivory demand grew, stimulated by economic development and increased tourism, particularly in Asia. The ivory trade was widely recognized as the single most important cause of substantial elephant population declines (Clarke & Bertin 1989; Cobb 1989). (Daniel Stiles, The ivory trade and elephant Conservation, see below)

Mapping Ivorys origin

Using the isotope results with other climate data and geographical mapping tools, it was possible to characterize elephants from different habitats across the region. This baseline data set was then used to provenance elephant ivory of Unknown geographical provenance that was exported from East Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to determine its likely origin.


In Khmer language, Ivory is called "Plok Domray".

Reference list Koehl, Dan, (2024). Ivory. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 20 September 2021 at https://www.elephant.se/index.php?id=24. (archived at the Wayback machine)

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