How an problematic seed is assisting to save a elephant

An owl sculptured from taguaImage copyright
Ivonne Wierink

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The tagua seed reaches 9cm (3.5 inches) in length, and can be forged like ivory

Onno Heerma outpost Voss jokes that he never dictated to be a conservationist, though he is assisting to save a African elephant.

Numbers of elephants in a furious are still falling; it’s estimated 100 of them are killed by poachers any day for their tusks to accommodate a stability direct for ivory.

There are now usually around 415,000 African elephants opposite a continent, down from as many as 5 million a century ago, according to tellurian debate organisation WWF (formerly famous as a World Wide Fund for Nature).

While a worldwide sale of new ivory was outlawed in 1989, a animals are still being slaughtered to fuel an bootleg trade led by stability direct in China.

So what accurately is Mr Heerma outpost Voss, a 48-year-old Dutchman, doing to assistance strengthen a African elephant? He sells seeds.

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Naya Nayon

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Onno Heerma outpost Voss had never listened of tagua before he changed to Ecuador

Yes, we review that correctly, though these aren’t any aged seeds, they are instead rather special ones from South America called tagua.

They are a creamy phony seeds of 6 class of palm trees. They can strech adult to 9cm (3.5 inches) in length and when dusty turn unequivocally tough indeed. So tough in fact that they are also famous as “vegetable ivory”.

And like ivory, tagua can be discriminating and carved, and incited into exuberant carvings or jewellery.

From his bottom in Quito, a collateral of Ecuador, Mr Heerma outpost Voss’s association Naya Nayon has been exporting tagua for 16 years, and he says that sales are booming.

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Tagua has a unequivocally identical feel to ivory, though is a fragment of a price

He now sells to 70 countries, including China, Japan and Singapore, as tagua grows in recognition as an choice to ivory.

And with China pledging to finish a domestic trade in elephant tusks by a finish of this year, Mr outpost Voss is carefree that direct is going to burst even further.

Elephant plant

Using tagua as a surrogate for ivory is zero new. Indeed exports to Europe began in a 19th Century in sequence to accommodate a direct for an ivory-like tender material. This was used to furnish elaborate equipment such as buttons, chess pieces, and musical handles for canes.

In fact, a systematic name for a 6 class of palm trees that furnish tagua is Phytelephas, that means elephant plant, a curtsy to a ivory-like peculiarity of a seeds.

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Getty Images

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The white strength of a tagua seed becomes unusually tough once it dried

However, tagua fell into obscurity, so most so that Mr Heerma outpost Voss had never listened of it when he initial visited Ecuador in 2000.

Very most fondness a nation he motionless to stay and set adult a business, rising Naya Nayon to make and trade wooden furniture. Then a year after he had a phone call.

“In a commencement of 2001, a France-based British lady contacted me if we could supply palm forged tagua figurines,” he says.

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NAya Nayon

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The seeds are harvested from 6 class of palm trees

“Anyhow, we listen to clients to make a association work. So we did it, and we started to like a tagua and solemnly it took off.

“I always fun that we am a forced ecologist, though we indeed unequivocally like this product.”

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NAya Nayon

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Tagua seeds – that have a brownish-red outdoor scale – can be dusty in a air, or in an oven

Mr Heerma outpost Voss now sells $200,000 (£160,000) value of tagua per year that he buys from farmers. He and his 4 members of staff dry and cut a seeds prepared to be incited into jewellery, with France being his largest market.

The sliced tagua typically retails for $30 a kg, while a tender seeds sell for $6 a kg. By contrast, a kilogramme of ivory is value as most as $1,100 in China.

While Mr Heerma outpost Voss is scheming for a large upswing in exports to China, tagua does face dual hurdles in a country.

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Cyprien Bussy

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The seeds can be painted into any colour compulsory by a jeweller

Firstly, even a longest tagua seeds are most shorter than a normal elephant tusk, that boundary a distance of a ornaments that can be finished from a material. And secondly, it lacks ivory’s exclusivity.

Hongxiang Huang, a Chinese publisher and anti-ivory campaigner, explains: “As people turn wealthier they wish to buy oppulance items, and ivory is one of a many things that people desire. This is a conditions in China.”

Hairy tale

For buyers wanting an choice to elephant ivory that still comes from a reptile though is ethically sourced, a answer comes from underneath a solidified Siberian tundra in a north easterly of Russia.

It might sound bizarre, though a tusks from downy mammoths that died tens of thousands of years ago are mined on a unchanging basis. While central total are not available, an estimated 60 tonnes of outrageous ivory is harvested any year.

Image copyright
Thomas Cooper

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Mammoth tusks can be used as a surrogate for elephant ivory

Mammoth ivory sole for an normal $350 a kg in 2014, according to a gift Save a Elephants. This is about a third of a cost of elephant ivory, though hulk outrageous tusks in good condition can fetch distant more.

John Frederick Walker, an consultant on ivory, says: “Master carvers tend to cite elephant ivory since uninformed elephant ivory is easier to carve.

“But in fact, we can make smashing things from outrageous ivory.”

Yet with tagua distant easier to get reason of than outrageous ivory, and extremely cheaper, it is a South American seeds that is increasingly being used by jewellers, and not a Siberian tusks.

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Getty Images

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Demand for tagua in China is approaching to arise after a ivory anathema comes into place

Marion Andron is co-owner of French jewellers Nodova, that sole some-more than 300,000 euros ($320,000; £256,000) of tagua trinket final year.

Ms Andron, 27, travels to Ecuador twice a year to manage a prolongation of a tagua that is finished by 7 internal women during a cooperative.

While Nodova’s largest markets are France and a UK, it sells to stores opposite Asia and Ms Andron says that a stirring sweeping anathema on ivory sales in China offers a outrageous opportunity.

“I consider tagua has helped lessen a direct for animal ivory, and we overtly don’t consider someone currently can be ignorant about a massacre of elephants with all a media coverage,” she says.

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Posted by on Mar 23 2017. Filed under Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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