A Bid To Save Narwhals – No More Auctions Of Tusks
The high-end auction house of Bonhams (UK) withdrew from sale all the narwhal tusks offered in its “Gentleman’s Library Sale” auction on 21st January following concerns expressed by WDCS, over the impact of such sales on the survival of this endangered whale.
Chris Butler-Stroud, Chief Executive Officer at WDCS said, “We welcome Bonhams’ decision to remove the narwhal tusks from sale, and we hope that the company will extend this decision to future sales both at its UK auction houses and overseas salerooms.”
A spokesperson for Bonhams (UK) cited ‘procedural issues’ as the reason for the withdrawal of the narwhal tusks from Wednesday’s sale.
Seven narwhal tusks had been listed for auction on 21st January, with price estimates ranging from £500 to £10,000. As far as WDCS has been able to determine, this would have been the largest single offering of narwhal tusks in the UK since the European Union banned the import of narwhal tusks from Canada in 1984 and limited imports from Greenland to personal effects only (i.e. not for resale) in 2004.
In a letter to Bonham’s CEO Robert Brooks sent prior to the sale, WDCS asked the auction house to refrain from offering narwhal tusks at this and any of their future auctions due to concerns that high prices paid for the long, ivory tusks of the “unicorn of the sea” are contributing to the demise of a species that is already subject to unsustainable and poorly regulated hunting as well as pressure from climate change, pollution, and other human-induced threats. One of the main narwhal populations in Greenland has been listed as critically endangered on Greenland’s Red List of Species, and in 2008, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which lists the species on its Red List of Threatened Species, cited over-hunting as the major threat and warned that the species as a whole could become “Endangered” or “Critically Endangered” within five years.
WDCS had also contacted Bonhams’ USA branch, Bonhams and Butterfields, with its concerns, as they had sold at least four narwhal tusks at its Los Angeles salesroom over the past two years, for prices ranging from US$11,000 to US$20,400 for a single tusk.
Butler-Stroud added, “The publicity surrounding sales such as these, and the high prices fetched by the tusks adds to the motivation for hunters to take as many narwhals as possible, and for Management Agencies to set quotas way above sustainable levels”.
WDCS is calling on all auction houses to stop offering narwhal tusks for sale. “Ensuring that any incentive to over-hunt narwhals is removed is WDCS’s “bid” to protect this unique and vulnerable species”.
Read this story at The Independent online, here.