research

Ivory Trade Research

Currently 20,000 elephants are killed every year for their ivory. At this rate it is expected that elephants have only 12 years remaining to enjoy their natural home. The demand for ivory has been going on for nearly a decade which has fueled a detrimental poaching crisis.

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The demand for ivory comes from countries such as China and Hong Kong whereby the possession of ivory is considered a luxury and is sold at an extremely high price which attracts poachers and smugglers attention as they also benefit from this.

After watching an extremely though provoking documentary title The Ivory Game that was released this year by The Big Life foundation in Kenya I learnt just how important it is that these elephants are given a voice and I believe the most powerful voice they have is through art.

An online organisation called Artists Against Ivory who work with artists who create exquisite wearable art to celebrate the majesty of the elephant and also make a profound statement against the ivory trade. It is mainly a fundraising organisation with an ambition to create a powerful voice for elephants.

The international trade of ivory was banned in 1989 in response to concerns over the conservation of elephant populations due to high levels of poaching. Initially this ban led to a decline in elephant poaching in most parts of Africa and many elephant populations began to increase.

However, the number of elephants being poached for their ivory began to increase again from 2006, with an even sharper increase in levels of poaching from 2008 to 2011. Despite poaching rates levelling from 2011, they remain unacceptably high and unsustainable.

A great deal needs to be done to stop elephants being killed for their ivory. In addition to anti-poaching work on the ground, it is vital to prevent the trafficking of ivory and reduce demand for this product. A key step in the right direction is to close domestic ivory markets across the world to help save elephants.

Sales of ivory, including within legal domestic markets, increases the risk to elephant populations and local communities–as domestic ivory markets provide cover for illegal trade, reinforce the high value of ivory and ultimately threaten the survival of many populations of elephants. The time has come to put an end to ivory trade, once and for all.

Ivory tusks are stored in boxes at Hong Kong Customs after they were seized from a container from Nigeria

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