The Ivory Trade and the Slaughter of Elephants

776 Words Jun 16th, 2018 4 Pages
The Ivory Trade and the Slaughter of Elephants

It is hard to equate an austere piano recital with the murder of hundreds of thousands of wild animals. For that matter, it is equally as difficult to relate that horrific scene with my grandmother’s antique hairpins, but the fact of the matter is that the creamy ivory that is so cherished as a sign of wealth, culture, and tradition is really the result of the work of poachers. How can those delicate hairpins be the topic of international debate and black market trade? The answer is rooted in the history of one of the world’s oldest markets: the ivory trade.

Ivory is a form of dentin, the same material that is in human teeth. Since the time of the sixth dynasty of ancient Egypt, ivory
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Between the years of 1979 and 1989 the African elephant population had declined from 1.3 million to 625,000, and the price had doubled per kilogram (Nave 1). The ban shut down all legal trade of the commodity, but black markets in ivory began to flourish. According to Kreuter, "poaching has increased in at least five of the nine countries studied by the African Elephant Specialist Group in 1994." In a few countries, such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa, programs have been put in place to give people incentives to maintain the elephant population (Kreuter 1). These incentives have placed a value on live elephants for the Africans who have therefore helped to maintain the numbers of these endangered creatures.
The above-mentioned programs are only in place in a few African countries. In many others, the ban is an often side stepped nuisance in the illegal trade of ivory. Over the past several years, the illegal ivory of over one thousand African and thirty nine Asian elephants has been recovered en route to Japan alone. The ivory of over three thousand elephants has been recovered worldwide (Kioko 1). In 1997, in an attempt to stop the illegal trade, MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) and ETIS (Elephant Trade Information System) have been organized. There efforts, although well planned and well funded are still ineffective (Kioko 2). With continued funding and support, the hope is that these organizations well be able to greatly reduce the
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