There is a new and booming trade in ivory. Siberian tusks are being traded openly and legally – global warming is defrosting the permafrost releasing millennia old mammoth remains as it does. This unexpected new industry is cashing in on the illegal trade of elephant ivory by selling these newly available, old tusks as an ersatz equivalent.
There are ethical concerns around a trade that cultivates a market for ivory of any sort – Telegraph article here.
I'm more interested in the idea that the replacement stand-in is more interesting, rare, and desirable than the thing it's supposed to be substituting. In my mind mammoths occupy a similar territory to dragons and dinosaurs - part myth, part legend, from a time so long ago they can only exist in stories. Yet here are these tangible reminders of what used to be, now freely available on the open market. Whole glorious tusks, polished to perfection for those who can afford it (approx $15-20k), shards and offcuts for the curio hunter with less deep pockets.
I find the blatant commercial nature of the thing at once disgusting and grimly alluring. I want some mammoth tusk – but I'm also aware that the story it tells isn't about treasure lost in the tundra, it's a story with layers of sadness about peoples effect on the world and how we exploit it.