The only way to bring new hope to the depleted elephant population is to stop ivory trade
Ivory has been in demand for various reasons, starting from its aesthetic qualities—including texture and color—to its malleability, durability, and absence of splintering. In the ivory trade, African elephants with larger tusks are preferred over their Asian counterparts.
It’s also believed that Asian ivory tends to become yellow with time and is more brittle than its African counterparts. China is believed to be the biggest consumer of ivory, though Thailand, the United States, the Philippines, Japan, and Vietnam also support large markets.
From statues and ornaments to jewelry—a wide variety of items are made from ivory. The growing demand for such items fuels the thriving illegal ivory trade. Ivory is present in an elephant’s tusks or teeth, which grow throughout its lifetime.
Since 1/3 of the tusk remains inside an elephant’s cranial cavity, elephants are mutilated by poachers to harvest the optimum amount of ivory.
Though the illegal ivory trade in Africa leaves African elephants at a greater risk, the population of their Asian counterparts, too, is decimating fast, which calls for immediate attention and action to stop ivory trade.
Though the commercial ivory trade ban by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1990 gave the elephants a lifeline, it allowed the sale of stockpiled ivory, first in 1998 and then again in 2008, which has again encouraged illegal ivory trade.
The good news is that Hong Kong’s lawmakers this year have voted overwhelmingly to ban ivory trade. They will phase out ivory sales gradually, stopping them totally in 2021. Earlier this year, mainland China too has brought a similar ban.
With the UK set to introduce a new ban on ivory sales (which would be among the strictest across the globe, with only narrow exceptions), elephant conservationists hope that other EU nations would follow suit and an EU-wide ban could come into force.
What steps do you think you can take to support the elephants and stop ivory trade? Let us know in the comments section below. Continue the conversation by reaching me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Make sure to visit my website at www.tamboelephant.com to buy my book that tells the tale of young elephant Tambo’s memorable journey.
Linder, Ann. 2016. “Detailed Discussion of Elephants and the Ivory Trade.” Michigan State University College of Law. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://www.animallaw.info/article/detailed-discussion-elephants-and-ivory-trade.
BBC NEWS. 2018. “Hong Kong Bans Ivory Trade in ‘Historic’ Vote.” Accessed April 20, 2018. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-42891204.
Bale, Rachel. 2018. “UK to Introduce ‘Toughest’ Ivory Ban in the World.” National Geographic, April 3. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/wildlife-watch-uk-elephant-ivory-ban.
Save Me Trust. 2018. “The Bloody History of the Ivory Trade.” Accessed April 20, 2018. http://www.save-me.org.uk/one-must-go-the-ivory-trade-or-the-elephant-its-our-choice/the-bloody-history-of-the-ivory-trade.