The ivory trade is killing elephants and people. A shocking two-thirds of all African elephants have been slaughtered for their ivory tusks in just the past 30 years. Many wildlife rangers risking their lives day and night to safeguard elephants have also lost their lives during this period.
In just the past few years enormous seizures of illegal ivory have been made – the largest seizures in the last 20 or so years. Terrorist organizations in some African countries use illegal ivory to fund their operations, threatening not only the continued existence of elephants but also the security and economy of African countries. Wildlife crime is big business. Run by dangerous international networks, wildlife and animal parts are trafficked like illegal drugs and arms. By its very nature, it is almost impossible to obtain reliable figures for the value of illegal wildlife trade. Experts at TRAFFIC (The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network) estimate that it runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
Ivory is destined primarily for Asia where it is carved into trinkets and religious ornaments, often depicting elephants. This ‘white gold’ is seen as an investment and symbol of status – worth more than its own weight in gold. In a recent study, an estimated 70% of Chinese believe that no harm is done to elephants to obtain ivory – that the ivory either falls out naturally or can be removed from the elephant without causing harm. With the ever-growing economy of Asian countries the demand for ivory can never be met. A recent survey in China revealed that a staggering ‘84% of middle and upper-middle class consumers surveyed plan to buy ivory goods in the future. That represents a very large number and a very grim future for elephants.’
Estimates suggest that 35,000 – 50,000 African elephants are being killed each year to satisfy the demand for ivory. At this rate, elephants will be extinct within the next decade across their range, perhaps sooner. The destruction of confiscated ivory stockpiles worldwide would ensure that illegal ivory cannot be laundered into the market fueling the continued slaughter of elephants. History has proven that the sale of ivory cannot be controlled nor does a legal ivory market reduce demand. By destroying stockpiles, a clear message would be conveyed that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The world must take a stand now or we will lose the elephant. For more on the history of the ivory trade click here. For related news and articles please visit our News page.
Once elephants are gone we can never bring them back. Join our cause and become part of the solution by purchasing a Burn The Ivory | Save The Elephant bracelet here. 100% of donations and proceeds from the sale of bracelets go to funding on the ground elephant conservation efforts, administering our programs, and developing educational materials aimed at ending the demand for ivory. You can also donate to our efforts here.