Bows have been confiscated from musicians travelling to the US, since the Ivory Ban Order (April 2014), simply with the doubt that they might contain banned elephant ivory. Bow tips are usually made of prehistoric mammoth ivory o synthetic materials which are definitely legal. However, officials are not able to easily differentiate between illegal ivory and these legal white coloured bow tips. So it is easier to confiscate any suspicious bow.
Nevertheless, on July 6, 2016, new rules took effect in regard to both international travel and domestic commerce with musical instruments that contain small quantities of African Elephant Ivory. You still need to apply for a travel permit but this development facilitates access and clarifies that these legal musical instruments are not contributing to the African elephant poaching and trafficking crisis.
The new rules include an elimination of the purchase date restriction. This allows musicians who bought an instrument after February 25th, 2014 and which contains legal elephant ivory to apply for a travel permit.
A musical instrument that contains African elephant ivory can be eligible for a travel permit if it meets all of the criteria below:
- The African elephant ivory contained in the instrument was legally acquired and removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976;
- The instrument containing worked ivory is accompanied by a valid Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) musical instrument certificate or equivalent CITES document;
- The instrument is securely marked or uniquely identified so that authorities can verify that the certificate corresponds to the musical instrument in question; and
- The instrument is not sold, traded, or otherwise disposed of while outside the certificate holder’s country of usual residence.
These are only some of the new rules that have taken place, so do make sure to double check before you travel and apply with good time for your travel permit!
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