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The elephant in the auction room

Qatari money fuels record price at ivory auction, reports Adam Sage of the Times.

An auction of elephant tusks in France has fetched a world-record price and illustrated the enduring lure of ivory for collectors.

Quite why the Qatari riyal in particular has the power to drive up prices Mr Sage does not say. One of the big bidders was a Qatari. That is the only justification for the headline. Strangely enough Mr Sage was also the author of another Times piece from a month ago that might give a slightly more plausible explanation for record prices at an ivory auction in France:

Ivory worth £6m is ground to dust next to Eiffel Tower

Three tons of impounded ivory were crushed next to the Eiffel Tower yesterday in an operation designed to highlight French opposition to the illegal wildlife trade.

However Mr Sage did not appear to perceive any possible connection between the two stories.

11 comments to The elephant in the auction room

  • Mr Ed

    People buying ivory? Tsk tsk.

  • Given what passes for journalism these days the ability to spot the logical consequences of these two events is probably beyond Mr. Sage.

    Tim Worstall (pbuh) said years ago that the answer to dealing with this problem lies in farming elephants, rhino’s and other large mammals and then selling their ivory as a certified product into the marketplace with profits going back to the farming of the sourced animals.

    Such a solution would lead to increased populations for what are essentially hunted and decreasing populations at present due to the illegal trade in ivory.

    It’s basic supply and demand.

  • Tono-Bungay


    Ivory worth £6m is ground to dust next to Eiffel Tower

    I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t possible for them to grind, say, £1m worth of Ivory into dust and then sell the other £5m for the benefit of wildlife refuges (or something animal-welfare related).

    Sure, I get the whole “making a statement”-thing, but pissing away six million quid’s worth of anything just seems so wrong to me. :(

  • Robert

    Well, I very much doubt that those who ground up the ivory actually paid £6m of their own money for the pleasure.

  • Paul Marks

    Q is an odd regime – they keep funding strange things.

  • That’ll be the price signal, then.

  • CaptDMO

    In SOME places in the US, it is being “suggested” that getting “caught” with perfectly legal firearms, with even “antique/”grandfathered” ivory “accents” (grips, case inlays, and such), should become the “new” felony status crime to “combat” our 2nd amendment uh…um…firearms/ammo/accessories ownership, possession, AND finger pointing/skillful breakfast pastry eating, emulation by public grammar school boys.
    FORTUNATELY, only musical instruments, with ony, you know,…”the wrong kind” of WOOD “accents”, are currently worthy of SWAT takedown, and IRS “enforcement” in the US.
    “Exotic” drinking water, sold in small amounts, for higher than -10&ETOH automotive fuel- gal/$, is STILL safe. Cat food, with contents of “unknown origins”, for higher than-sirloin steak- lb/$, is STILL safe.
    No word on exotic “imported” melamine, or high sulfur content combustible building material though.

  • CaptDMO

    *poop* “…10%ETOH…” (corn, formerly known as food, alcohol)

  • Eric

    Hmmmm. I wonder if that huge increase in price will make elephants more or less safe.

  • Deep Lurker

    The goal isn’t to protect elephants, but to reduce the demand for ivory with “protecting elephants” simply being an excuse or rationalization. From that point of view, destroying ivory to drive up the price makes sense. It also makes sense that they’d be upset by signs of the demand being inelastic.

    It’s a puritan motivation, the same as the desire to ban bear baiting “not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.”