The environmental group Avaaz say that a lot of the sales that are happening are, in fact, illegally poached ivory that's being covered up and sold as antiques.
Campaign organization Avaaz purchased more than 100 pieces of ivory from 10 different European Union countries to undergo carbon testing at Oxford University.
Ivory from an elephant killed by poachers as recently as 2010 was among the items passed off as being antique.
"It's sick", said Bert Wander from Avaaz, which organised the purchase of the items. Researchers purchased over 100 ivory items and found 75 percent of them were fake antiques being sold illegally.
Three-quarters of the items were dated to after 1947.
Current restrictions are meant to ensure that ivory from recently killed elephants can not find its way to market, but does allow restricted trade in antique ivory.
Carbon dating testing by the University of Oxford showed that 13 of the 18 objects contained ivory that originated later than 1947. And 45% of the ivory samples came from tusks that grew in the 1970s and 1980s, which makes it probable that the elephants were killed after the 1989 CITES ivory ban.
Ivory obtained before 1947 can be traded freely, after that and before 1990, when a global ban was introduced, it can be sold with a government certificate.
But none came with a certificate, being presented as older pieces.
The investigation found that all the pieces sold in Bulgaria, Spain, and Italy were illegal, and so were the large majority of items from France, the Netherlands, and Portugal. It must spark the end of this bloody trade. Tackling trafficking should be a priority for all enforcement agencies in member states, officials said.
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Avaaz's report said: "This is an EU-wide problem - high levels of illegal ivory were found in nearly every country tested".
The European Commission said that addressing poaching and ivory trafficking was a cornerstone of an EU action plan against wildlife trafficking and that the Commission was now discussing the next steps. It will undoubtedly lead to calls for a complete ban. Savannah elephants have likewise been hard hit in some strongholds, with losses of 60% in Tanzania alone in the past five years. In many locations, the future of the elephant will not be sustainable if this keeps up.
Not many. Some of the leading markets have now banned any sales including Hong Kong, the world's biggest, which will phase out the legal trade over the next three years.
The ban was also a victory for Britain's Prince William, who has long campaigned against the ivory trade.
Sales of ivory are banned in Europe since 1990. (Avaaz) A trinket from Bulgaria.
China and the USA imposed a near total ban on domestic ivory sales during the last months of the Obama administration. We hope that a good decision will be taken soon, we were expecting something already this July, [it] now seems that it has been postponed.
"This is the only way it can preserve its status as a leader in fighting the wildlife trade and protecting African elephants", it added.
I have an ivory trinket, what should I do with it? In April, the United Kingdom announced its own domestic ivory ban with even tougher measures. She said some items were particularly crudely made.
People might also want to donate them to an elephant charity which could arrange for their destruction or use them in educational activities.
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