China ivory ban
Chinese ivory goods on displayReuters

Illegal ivory has been found on sale in 10 European countries, contravening international efforts clamp down on the trade.

New York-based global activist group Avaaz bought 109 items containing ivory over a four-month period in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK, reports the Guardian.

The group had them tested in labs at Oxford University using radiocarbon dating. Nearly one-fifth of the objects were found to contain ivory from animals killed since 1990, which is illegal after restrictions on the global ivory trade were put in place in 1989.

Three-quarters of the items were dated to after 1947. The sale of ivory made after that date is subject to restrictions and, for it to be sold legally requires official documentation.

The apparent proof of illegal echoes other research that found illegal ivory products on sale in the UK and other parts of the continent.

Here is what 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."

Current restrictions are meant to ensure that ivory from recently killed elephants cannot find their way into the market, but does allow restricted trade in antique ivory.

Ivory was used for centuries in objects from piano keys to billiard balls.

However, campaigners have grown increasingly vocal in their opposition to any form of trade in ivory, as demand from China has shown little sign of abating. Furthermore, dwindling numbers of the remaining population of elephants in Africa and Asia are under more threat than ever from increasingly mechanised and vicious predations by poachers, the Guardian reported.

Prince William has called for an outright ban on any sales of objects containing ivory. He argued that the trade in antiques provides cover for poachers looking for outlets for their illegal killing of elephants and rhinos.