With rare exceptions, newly harvested elephant or “marine” ivory has not adorned new sets of Highland pipes since the early-1980s, but instruments made before that time frequently used the now-banned material for projecting mounts, ferules, soles and rings.
And American pipers travelling with older drones with ivory ornamentation are concerned that a recent crackdown by their government will result in the permanent confiscation of their precious instruments. With dozens of American pipers planning to travel to both the North American Championships at Maxville, Ontario, Canada, and the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow concerns are spreading as fast as wildfire.
Ron Bowen of St. Catharines, Ontario, who operates a website called The Bagpipe Place is trying to make things easier for pipers, with information on the matter, and even a program to assess and certify pipes with older ivory manufactured before the US government’s June 2014 strict enforcement of what they consider to be an illegal use of ivory.
Penalties if caught can not only result in the confiscation of an instrument, but fines and even imprisonment, although there is no known case of the latter two punishments.
Essentially, pipers with ivory adorned instruments need a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit that proves either that the instrument was imported before 1990 in accordance with CITES regulations, or imported prior to 1976, before relevant CITES regulations were enacted, and that the pipes were acquired before February 25, 2014.
Bowen warns that if pipes are seized by US Customs officials, there is little chance of their return.
“They are often donated to museums or used in public displays to educate travelers about the risks of travelling with endangered species products without the required permits,” Bowen said. “You may see displays like this at many large airports. In some cases, seized items are destroyed.”
In preparation for his trip to Scotland with the Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, Scott MacDonald is taking every precaution, starting with an assessment of his circa-1880 Donald MacPhee silver and ivory-mounted drones by Bowen, and now with the recent delivery of his CITES permit.
MacDonald recently learned that each time he travels out of and back to the United States with his pipes he will need to arrange an interview and a . . .