By: Elle O.
(July 28, 2017)
The amount of African elephant ivory that was taken from Metropolitan Fine Arts & Antiques Inc. was priced at over $4.5 million. The store owners, brothers, Samuel Morano, 49, and Irving Morano, 47, plead guilty to the Illegal Commercialization of Wildlife.
They were taken down by two undercover investigators, who went in and were told they were buying a carving made of mammoth ivory. After research done by the Museum of Natural History, it was determined that it was in fact made from African Elephants tusks. This was enough evidence for the police to obtain a search warrant for the store located in Midtown on 10 W 57th Street .
The shop was forced to forfeit the 126 pieces taken during the investigation and the other 1,657 pieces of ivory later on, ranging from figurines to whole tusks, all of African elephants. The store’s ivory license expired in 2014, however the owners did not make an attempt to renew it, regardless of the fact that new protections would have made it nearly impossible to do so. The state of New York has heavy regulations on the sale of ivory, it is mainly only legal when in regards to scientific research and few special cases.
As part of their sentence, in addition to having to forfeit all that ivory, they had to pay $2,000 to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. On top of that, they had to make a $100,000 donation to the Wild Tomorrow Fund and $100,000 donation to the World Wildlife Fund.
According to the Great Elephant Census executed by National Geographic researchers released in 2016, there are approximately only 352,271 savanna elephants left in the species’ range. Profits made from elephant poaching tend to fund the armies of dangerous African warlords. As reported by the Wildlife Conservation Society, 96 elephants are killed each day. Given these disturbing statistics, the ivory confiscated as a result of this investigation, along with pieces taken from other cases, will be destroyed in Central Park on August 3rd as part of the “Ivory Crush” event on World Elephant Day.
Tags: NYPD, Ivory Trade, Wildlife Endangerment