Skip to comments.Trade in mammoth ivory, helped by global thaw, flourishes in Russia
Posted on 03/26/2008 5:00:22 PM PDT by BGHater
NOVY URENGOI, Russia: As Viktor Seliverstov works in his makeshift studio in this hardscrabble Siberian town he is enveloped in a cloud of ivory dust. His electric carving tool whirrs over the milky surface of teeth and tusks, as he whittles them into key fobs, knife handles and scrimshaw figurines.
But these are not whale bones or walrus tusks he is working on. The ivory in this part of the world comes from the remains of extinct woolly mammoths, as they emerge from the tundra where they have been frozen for thousands of years. It is a traditional Russian business that had all but gone extinct itself during the Soviet period but is flourishing now.
"A lot of people find ivory and don't know what to do with it," Seliverstov said of the residents of this town, where more than a few closets and old barns have a tusk or two in them.
Seliverstov recently paid $500 for about seven kilograms, or 16 pounds, of mammoth ivory from a family that had stashed it in a barn for years before realizing its value.
The trade, bolstered recently by global warming, which has melted the tundra and exposed more frozen remains, is not only legal but actually endorsed by conservationists. They note somewhat grudgingly that while the survival of elephants may be in question, it is already too late for mammoths. Mammoth ivory from Siberia, they say, meets some of the Asian demand for illegal elephant ivory and its trade should be encouraged.
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Thats the spirit! It's better than killing other animals and eating Dinosaur bones like they do in China.
Viktor Seliverstov, working on a carving from a piece of mammoth tusk at his makeshift workshop in the city of Novy Urengoi, Russia. Ivory carving is a traditional Russian business that had all but gone extinct itself during the Soviet period but is flourishing now.
Seliverstov outside his studio. His trade has been bolstered recently by global warming, which has melted the tundra and exposed more frozen remains. The tusks emerge with the spring thaw or after heavy rains, or along the eroding banks of rivers.
While prices vary, leading dealers in Moscow usually ask $300 to $400 a kilogram for average grade ivory. By the time it reaches Western markets, the same ivory can sell for as much as $1,600 a kilogram, dealers say.
A schoolgirl looking at exhibits about mammoths, many of which were found in the frozen tundra nearby, at the Novy Urengoi museum. Some mammoths are frozen whole, as if in suspended animation, others in bits and pieces of bone, tusk, tissue and wool.
Gary Haynes, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Nevada at Reno, said he could not help but cringe at seeing the tusks destroyed. The growth rings and possible prehistoric human butcher marks contain a wealth of data on the ancient climate and peoples of Siberia that could shed light on whether climate change and over-hunting felled the mammoths.
Does it come in green?
Alot of it makes it to Alaska and is used for carving, but nowheres near for 1600/kg. They use to find it here in the interior along rivers where banks continue to erode with warming but I don’t think as much as say 20 years ago.
Man, I gotta get me some of that before the price skyrockets.
That’s what has been driving all these mammoth stories in the last year.
The smart money guys are going to promote an international bourse, trading in mammoth tusk ivory (with some crooks selling their teeth as the real thing, no doubt)
What do you reackon a mammoth wool coat would sell for?
D@mm it's funny. I think these liberals are really out to basically eliminate the human race. Or at least pare it down to some tiny number of 1 million or so. They just hate mankind with a passion.
That's it... over hunting killed the mammoths.
I wonder what a pair of grips for my Colt 1911 would cost?
A lot of people DO know what to do with it: ebay!
The dismayed Mr. Haynes who cringes over the carving should send Al Gore a one-way ticket to the region. Something about that man’s presence makes snow fall and accumulate in record measures.
Don’t laugh too soon. The mammoth disappeared from North America only a few centuries after men appeared here.
At least that’s one of the main theories.
Mammoth skeletons have been found with flint spear points embedded in the vertebrae
I’ve been shopping ivory grips for my 1911, the nicer sets are in the $250-400 range.
I’ve no doubt that they hunted them. But the idea that they were hunted out of existence is ludicrous.
Don’t be an enviropatsy. :)
Man coexisted with bison in North America foe thousands of years.
But man himself could not have barely made a dent into the bison population with two things:
Horses and firearms
Man might have contributed, but I am certain he is not the primary cause of mammoth extinction.
There are simply way too many different species spread out over way too large a geographic area that went extinct at almost exactly the same time - about 11,500 years ago.
“with two things” SB “without two things”
I tip my hat to those prehistoric hunters. Those boys had some 'nads!
Mammoth Ivory has been harvested from Siberia for centuries.
There are many islands right off the north shore of Siberia and the estimates are there is still hundreds if not thousands of tons of the stuff there.
" Stuart Spector Designs has just completed a bass, the NS-30K BC that will utilize what is believed to be the oldest wood ever used in the construction of a musical instrument. Obtained by Spector from logs discovered buried 40 feet deep in a sand quarry in Georgia, USA, the wood is perfectly preserved, due to the sterile nature of the sand and the natural decay resistance of the cypress wood itself. Using carbon 14 testing techniques, samples of the wood were examined by Beta Analytics, in Miami, to check for radioactive decay in the small amount of carbon that is present in all living organisms."
Could I get him to carve a woolly mammoth for me?