Regarding the Jan. 3 Arts&Style article “Entangled in ivory”:
Traveling with instruments involves more than ivory. All materials listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are included, not just those from animals. Many violin-family bows were made from pernambuco, a CITES-listed wood, which requires special paperwork for travel. Fine guitars were made from Brazilian rosewood or Honduras mahogany, now protected species. Many over-harvested woods are on the list, and rightly so.
Enforcement of CITES is capricious. Orchestras acquire appropriate permissions yet still face difficulties. Some musicians have expensive, old instruments destroyed by overzealous customs agents. Many woods are similar in appearance. As an instrument maker, I have to provide a list of all materials used anytime I ship an instrument overseas. I don’t use banned materials or anything likely to be banned, but I discourage people from traveling with a wooden instrument without checking the ban list.
The only solution I can see is worldwide acceptance of the value of species preservation and careful resource management. Otherwise, non-banned species in wide use today (many because the banned ones are no longer available) will end up on the threatened-species list soon enough and we’ll have the same problem all over again.
Dana Johnson, Kensington