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8 Reasons To The Ban Ivory  Trade

Every 25 minutes, another elephant is killed for its tusks. Everyday, another poacher poses with a new corpse. And apparently, every year another debate is held over the ethics behind the ivory trade.

Following a recent rejection of the pledge to ban ivory trading in the UK, environmentalists, politicians and the public alike are baffled as to why such an action has been enforced. This news came after China’s announcement of their ban on ivory trade by the end of 2017, affirming a historic decision in the elephant conservation movement. Their eventual departure from the global ivory market will significantly reduce the ivory trading activities taking place as China is currently the market leader. While WWF welcomed this momentous news of China’s departure, they were disappointed by the UK’s backtracking from endangered animal protection. This article will justify the painfully obvious reasons why we should never support the trade of goods that require animal culling let alone the murder of the world’s largest land mammal.

Flickr | NH531)    Tusks are not unintentional additions to an elephant’s face! These long, protruding teeth grow externally to help elephants in their daily functions. The removal of an elephants tusk comes with imminent death. Imagine killing a magnificent land mammal for its teeth.

2)    Ivory consists of dentine, a similar tissue to bone with no special qualities other than its aesthetic quality. An ivory trader would tell you that the inhumane act of obtaining an elephants tusk is justified through the beauty of the art created in ivory. Some how, one might understand the feelings of detriment expressed by environmentalists and the ethically conscious public.

3)    Elephants are highly intelligent mammals who know their entire herd and can recognise members from other species. Their memory can extend to cognitive maps and facts which is as superior as human memory. It’s of no surprise that an elephants brain is the largest in any land mammal weighing around 5kg and their EQ comes close to that of a chimpanzee. They are known to be great problem solvers and even have a basic understanding of arithmetic!

4)    The similarity between the brain of an elephant and a human show that the animal is capable of sentience. They are capable of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and are the only animal to mourn the dead hence the derivation of an ‘elephants graveyard’. They feel loss, grief and compassion in a similar way to humans. It is unimaginable to comprehend the sorrow in witnessing masses of members of your herd and species disappear.

Flickr | USFWS Mountain-Prairie5)    Ivory carving is one of China’s oldest traditions that initially had little effect in the global ivory trade. However, Western demand for ivory ornaments in the 19th century led to mass elephant slaughter. China’s niche art form turned industry helped reduce the African elephant population from 20 million in 1800 to just 2 million by 1960.

6)    The poaching rate of elephants in Africa and Asia could cause the complete annihilation of the mammal because this organised crime is decimating the population at alarming rates. 

7)    The current consensus in the UK is that ivory carvings that date pre-1947 are permitted but any ownership of ivory goods with a later date would be deemed illegal. Unfortunately, alternating the legality of ivory goods doesn’t set enough of a precedent for other countries and only shows a level of leniency towards the ivory traders. Upheld culture is important but not as vital as the survival of a dying species.

8)    Domestic ivory trade bans are not enough. Banning the ivory trade in countries across the continents is a united effort that requires the participation and solidarity of all governments and nations. This is the only way to address corruption and put an end to illegal trading for good.


By Anaka Nair - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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