Sometimes the word ivory feels a little too objective for me. Ivory is actually an elephant’s tusk which they use because it’s theirs to use. It’s essential to their survival. Tusks are used for defense, offense, digging, lifting objects, gathering food, and stripping bark to eat from trees. They also protect the sensitive trunk, which is tucked between them when the elephant charges. In times of drought, elephants dig water holes in dry riverbeds by using their tusks, feet, and trunk.
It’s unfortunate that somewhere down the line somebody figured out that these tusks can be harvested from an elephant by killing it, and that the “tusk” can be carved into trinkets, jewellery, piano keys, chopsticks etc…. But you have to kill the elephant to get the tusk. That’s just the way it works.
About 100 years ago there were approximately 10 million elephants in Africa. According to the Great Elephant Census of 2016 only 400,000 or thereabouts remain. With 30,000 or so being killed for their tusks per year they will be extinct in the wild within 10 years. The UK, France, China and the US announced bans with Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong soon to follow suit. Elephanatics is advocating that Canada also ban the sale of ivory but we’re waiting for the Honourable Minister to make up her mind about this issue.
Since the closure of these markets the “ivory trade” is flowing to two other markets, Japan and Vietnam.
Japan has long resisted closing the trade in any way, just like they resist closing the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Japan has consumed ivory from at least 262,500 elephants since 1970, the vast majority from large, mature adults. A 2015 JTEF and EIA single-day survey of Yahoo! Japan and Rakuten, a popular e-commerce site, likewise revealed some 12,200 ads for ivory—about 10 percent of which indicated, illegally, that the material could be shipped overseas.
The article below is long but it’s worth reading. Elephants are like people. They are highly intelligent, emotional and complex animals. They are a keystone species which means we need them. I am hoping that the next generation of human beings will be justifiably horrified and appalled at our horrifying treatment of animals and wildlife including this astonishing species. While we dither they die. What a profound loss that is for everyone but especially them.