Ivory was a symbol of respect and status in ancient African communities, and their value increased over time. Rising demand for ivory, used in jewelry and other luxury materials, has led to a surge in elephant poaching.
Elephant hunting for ivory began in the 16th century. But is it over? Is this practice still happening? This article answers them one by one.
Are Elephants Still Killed for Their Tusks?
At least 20,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory。 For thousands of years and in many different cultures, ivory has been considered a luxury item for its durability and lustrous appearance. Recently, the value of ivory has only increased, further endangering elephants.
As we all know, China is the largest consumer of ivory products, and most of the smuggled ivory ends up in the Chinese market. Large quantities of ivory are sold in commercial establishments in cities across China, and the UK has steadily exported ivory to these regions.
Activities such as agricultural extension and land development have drastically reduced the animals’ habitat, putting them at risk from poachers.
In the 1980s alone, an estimated 100,000 elephants were killed each year before CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) imposed a ban on international trade in 1990.
The U.S. also banned the ivory trade to protect elephants from extinction. Antiques and materials containing small amounts of ivory are excluded. Still, there are reports of several elephants being hunted and ivory still being smuggled into the United States. Globally, the ivory trade is worth about $23 billion a year, which is a considerable amount and provides a strong case for killing.
How did the ivory hunt start?
In ancient Africa, ivory was highly respected, and only great men were qualified to own and use it. Over time, Europeans explored, and ivory was one of the commodities they brought back.
They began actively hunting elephants with the help of native Africans. Locals lead hunting teams into elephant habitats in search of elephant tusks.
In 1977, there were approximately 1.3 million elephants in Africa. Just two decades later, the population has more than halved. This realization drove the need to save elephants from extinction, leading to the CITES ban.
Where Ivory Hunting Happens Most
As you probably know, most elephant poaching cases occur in Africa. The ivory trade also originated in India, with a large share of ivory demand coming from China.
Why Killing Elephants for Their Tusks Isn’t Worth It
Aside from the fact that elephants shouldn’t be killed, they provide multiple benefits to humans and their environment. One of these benefits is generating income.
Giants are such a spectacle that people travel long distances just to see them up close. Elephants’ native countries, such as India, can generate considerable income by offering tours and sightseeing to tourists.
The services of each forest animal are estimated to be worth nearly $2 million, with poachers poaching $40,000 for the ivory.
Elephant conservation practices
There are greater benefits to keeping elephants alive than killing them. We must make a conscious effort to protect these magnificent mammals.
1. Oppose illegal ivory trade
Every piece of ivory, whether it is a piece of jewelry or an entire tusk, means a dead elephant. At this rate, elephants will be extinct within a few decades. The Elephant Census, released in 2016, found only about 350,000 savannah elephants in 18 countries.
The decline in numbers got worse as demand for ivory increased. The illegal ivory trade should not be allowed to continue.
2. Strengthening anti-poaching measures
Management agencies must ensure continuous monitoring and protection of these mammals. They must be kept in a protected habitat and human activities must be limited so as not to affect them.
3. Strengthen anti-smuggling supervision
Penalties for smuggling should be increased and stricter security measures must be taken to ensure that ivory smuggling is stopped.
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- Where do elephants live?their habitat explained
- Types of Elephants: 3 Types of Elephants
- New study: After years of poaching, elephants changed their evolutionary trajectory
- Why do elephants pull their tails when they walk?
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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