Illicit Ivory Trade Threatens African Elephants

Today, poachers kill an African elephant every 20 minutes to feed an insatiable demand for ivory. As a result, these elephants may be gone in as little as ten years. This large scale wanton destruction of these intelligent animals is a global tragedy. What’s particularly sad is that these fine creatures are in many ways similar to humans. According to Cynthia Moss, who has conducted the longest running study of elephants in the wild, elephants have strong feelings and emotions. They have a distinct family structure, bathing rituals and a mourning process not unlike our own.

Exposing the Cruelty

Longtime animal rights advocate Kristin Bauer Van Straten (Once Upon a Time’s Maleficent) recently ventured to Kenya with a film crew to document the widespread illicit ivory trade.I met with James Isiche from IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare),” said Van Straten. “They do great work in Kenya. I’d heard about the ivory crisis in the 80s, but I didn’t realize that ivory was such a widely-traded commodity. The cruelty of it is astounding. Elephants are massive and majestic creatures. The slaughtering of these 15,000 pound animals for four percent of their body for a trinket is appalling,” noted Van Straten.

Ivory Trinkets Popular in China

Kenya is the only country that has chosen to destroy their seized ivory—as opposed to selling it to China, a huge consumer of ivory. “The biggest problem we’ve seen since the total ban on ivory in the 80s is that other African countries are choosing to enter the black market, become traders and profit from the sale of illegal ivory,” said Van Straten.And that has fueled this drive to move ivory overseas again.” Most people in China don’t realize that an elephant has to be killed for their ivory trinket. The word ivory in China translates into “teeth.” So many assume that ivory tusks simply fall out of living elephants. Ivory has become a status symbol in China; it’s how the Chinese middle class show they have arrived. “We’re trying to get an all-out ban on ivory, but we’re getting all kinds of blowback from the people who would profit from its sale,” noted Van Straten.

Public Pressure Needed

One positive note is that public pressure can have an impact in saving these regal creatures. “From what I saw in Kenya, the people there are astoundingly optimistic,” said Van Straten, adding,The more who get involved, the greater chance we have of keeping elephants on Earth. I watched two animal species go extinct in the last two years, which is very sad. The only thing we can do is try to support what these heroes in Kenya are doing,”

What You Can Do

So how can people help this noble cause?Depending on the person’s resources, if all they have is a voice, that’s huge,” said Van Straten. “We need the world to declare an all-out ban on ivory. We need to spread the word as fast as we can,” she added. You can also add your name to this petition asking the Tanzanian President to ban the ivory trade. (You can learn more at Van Straten’s website.)

EARTH FOCUS: Illicit Ivory airs on KCET. The program will also be available on http://www.kcet.org/ivory and KCET.org/ivory. The trailer can be seen on http://bcove.me/slkmg39e (warning: contains shocking footage of killed elephants).

 

96 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

Just so deplorable, TYFS

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Shirley P.
Shirley P3 years ago

This is such a terrific loss of all wildlife, especially elephants which are SO much alike with humans. Frankly, I just hate what is happening in our world today, really, just who want so remain here with all our valued wildlife gone, and the environment so sickened it cannot continue to exist. God Bless These wonderful animals, and the environment as it continues to die, and whats only left will be over 7 billions humans.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R3 years ago

Cruel, sick and inhumane!

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Valentina R.
Valentina R3 years ago

And destroying ivory is uneffective as it makes it more rare and desirable!

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Tanya W.
Tanya W3 years ago

Petition signed already plus many more. While China refuses to join the human race we are fighting a iphill battle. I pray we win the war 🐘🐘🐘

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Tanya W.
Tanya W3 years ago

Trying to save one elephant at a time but fearing we are too late 🐘

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

I sure know where I would love to shove their ivory, just so deplorable for all the magnificent elephants, Thank you for caring and sharing.

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

What a deplorable trade, all those innocent elephants that are tortured for this horrible trade, Thank you for caring and sharing.

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mari s.
Mari S3 years ago

will do -- Hold some things as sacred -- your beautiful animals, wild and not-so-wild, should be protected -- they have the sacred God-given right to live -- do NOT take this right away -- do NOT savagely slaughter them -- do NOT kill them at all!

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