Ending the Livelihood of a 5th Generation Ivory Carver

Shared by David Warther - 9/5/2014

For over 50 years I have carried on my family's trade of ivory carving. A domestic ivory ban makes it practically impossible for me to make a living from the art to which I have dedicated most of my life.

I live and work near Dover, Ohio. That is where I built my museum that is dedicated to the intricately fabricated ivory ships I have carved since my childhood. My great-great-grandfather was a cabinet maker and woodcarver in Switzerland. My grandfather was a renown carver of steam engine models using wood and ivory. My father was a knife maker, and I carried on my grandparents' tradition.

Having worked with ivory my entire life, I have a deep connection with elephants and a loathing for anyone who would kill one illegally to poach their ivory. Since the international ivory ban in 1989, I became a trusted source of raw ivory for others in the US. Our family owned a large stock of tusks, and I knew the variety of domestic sources through which legal ivory could be traded.

My experience included serving as an expert witness for the US Fish and Wildlife Service when I testified against African ivory smugglers who tried to bring illicit ivory into the United States. For years I worked closely with USFWS, reporting suspicious traders and helping them prosecute criminals.

Instead of partnering with people like me to find and prosecute poachers & smugglers, the White House now wants to criminalize my livelihood and strip all value from my life's work.

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