Planning international travel? Think about your ivory faceplate!
Is it real elephant ivory? Or is it synthetic? Those and other questions are exactly what the Los Angeles Philharmonic asked us as they prepare for their 2015 Asia Tour in March.
Last month, Hans Weisshaar assessed over 200 instruments and bows to assure Philharmonic musicians going on tour and students traveling to auditions abroad are prepared to leave and, more importantly, ensure they will be able to return to the US with their instruments and bows safe, sound, and worry-free. In many instances, we made modifications on antique and contemporary bows and instruments by replacing parts made of protected ‘listed materials’, such as ivory, with ‘worry-free’ materials.
Under the Lacey Act of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the International Convention for the Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), endangered flora and fauna species, such as the elephant tusk ivory, tortoiseshell, or Brazilian rosewood used in violin making, are listed as protected, which prohibits the transportation of these listed materials across international borders. The success of CITES requires great international effort and cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation or extinction.
As a caveat before international travel, have your instruments and bows assessed for any parts made of endangered species materials to avoid having your possessions confiscated and destroyed at the customs borders.