Monday, June 22, 2009

Warning of Elephant Ivory Trade

              What do you think when you see or own the elephant ivory trinkets? Do you wonder whether the elephant population is at risk by the ivory trade? Can you guess how many elephants will be killed for selling 44 tons of ivory? The editor of “The stampede to resume ivory trading” said, “The African elephants population plummeted by 60 percent between 1978 and 1987, thanks to our lust for ivory” (2007, para.5). After that, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) mandated the ban of selling the ivory, and successfully curbed trafficking for several years (United States Department of State, 2007). Therefore, CITES has decided to allow South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to sell their ivory hoards to China and Japan, because elephant population in those countries are stable or growth rapidly (Taylor, 2008). In addition, the South African government plans to shoot some elephants because excess elephants numbers impact their life. As a result, that has caused disagreements. Some people think that it is an absolutely wrong decision, which will cause more poaching. The opponents think economic development is more important, and the elephant won’t face endangerment because its number increased.

           Elephant ivory has attractive value for traders. The traders and the lovers of exotic trinkets are very happy that the CITES gave the permission for selling the ivory. However, it is also hazardous to give black markets the opportunity to do illegal activities, such as poaching and trafficking. With the economic development, elephant numbers increased with the enactment of the ban. Therefore, the evidence shows an abundance of horrible records about ivory smuggling when the trade has already been banned. Thereby, elephant ivory shouldn't be legalized, because it will encourage illegal hunting activities. Taylor said, "this situation is very clear; more ivory in the marketplace equals many more dead elephants and rangers". Selling ivory is not the only way to make the local economies prosper. Except for the relative enforcement and laws that should be stronger, there are more effective and profitable ways to protect endangered animals, such as tourism and sustainable exploitations.

          Protection of endangered species is not a local problem; we should mobilize international action. Economic development is global; nature protection also requires global thinking. Working together is always the best way to collect ideas and solve the problems. All countries should pay more attention to current endangered species by measuring their own countries’ situations. Then, they need to find the solution for their local problem first and help other countries. The evidence shows that many countries have already taken action. There are almost 171 countries that joined into “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Conference of the Parties,” (United States Department of State, 2007), which is an international protocol. If every country can take action to concentrate on nature protection, solving the problem will not be very difficult.

              Providing and enhancing the law and regulation documents is always an efficient way to limit the illegal trade; however, undergirding of people’s legal consciousness is the basic things that most countries should do. In the article "Why legal ivory trade is better for the elephants" the author said, “Conservation programs can limit such detrimental and off-the-books exploitation, but not very effectively (2008, para.6). People should be told strongly that their behavior is running against the law and has imperiled the balance of nature. Besides, these Asians and Africans mostly put their commercial interests first, and maybe most of them don’t know too much about the environmental problem. So they should be taught what has happened to nature and what the right way to take benefits from natural resource is. If people’s nature protection consciousness were changed, the environment problem and even the endangered species problem would have declined.

          Proponents of the legal ivory trade explain that easing the market rules and making products from any protected species can potentially direct people to keep and protect that species with the purpose of economic worth. However, this is illogical. That will definitely encourage poaching and turn a green light on black markets. People with that thought are shameless, because I believe that they are more interested in the cause of financial benefits, especially in poor countries. According to Nielsen's article "Poachers target African elephant for ivory tusks", "You don't have to be a Ph. D to understand that there's a huge amount of money to be made in smuggling," Clark says, "it's a hot market and lots of people are getting into it (2009, para.11).    People in poor countries have strong demands from their local resources. It is easier for people in poor countries to do illegal activities to get out of poverty (Why Legal Ivory Trade is better for the Elephant, 2008). In fact, the poor education in those countries is not good enough to build their consciousness of animal protection.

             One group of people thinks that a trade ban is a good tool to gather public support and limit the illegal activities about an endangered species. However, the bans became loosened and defective, with the commercial interests developing. So the illegal black market is still thriving.  The bans have many shortcomings. Illegal traders use this tool to raise the price to make a lot of money (Use them or lose them, 2007). That is why the ivory trade was still thriving during the ban’s existence. Therefore, we should tighten the policies to avoid the massive poaching from happening again.

          Developing a foresighted economy is the best way to keep a sustainable environment. Elephant is not the only endangered species that we should be concerned about; a number of other animals, such as tiger, panda, rhinoceros, whale and so on, are also decreasing.  Keeping the balance of nature is very important for the future of life on the earth. Whatever species is destroyed, it will impact the whole biosphere chain. In the case of Asia and Africa, it is gainful to sell the ivory by massacring elephants, but this kind of commercial interest is not lucrative. Pueschel, the manager of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), maintains that tourism provides one of the biggest incomes in Africa and tourists are interested in seeing the wildlife (United States Department of State, 2007). For this reason, keeping people from poaching wildlife and promoting the improvement of tourism business is a clear and good solution. It is beneficial for the current economy and even for a future.

             People claim that some species like elephants should be shot some for making value in the market to deal with excess elephant population. However, this is ridiculous. Humans shouldn’t make a decision so easily for specie’s fate. The elephants still need protection and they can be exploited for their value instead of being killed. We can make money from animals with sustainable ways. As mentioned above, the tourism business is the ideal way to keep a species from becoming endangered, and it has done well in some countries. The author of “Use them or lose them” said, “The gorillas in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda attract a lot of money from visitors. They are doing well, unlike their cousins over the border in Congo which do not earn their keep, and are prey to hunters who want to clear them out and take their land” (2008, para.8). Exploiting this kind of business is effective to keep the wildlife and protect the species, and is good to develop local economy.

              Moreover, developing the artificial rearing business without killing is also a profitable way to protect animals. The animals can be brought up by artificially and can be develop the related businesses by exploiting values from them. Killing the individual creatures need not harm populations (Use them or lost them, 2008).  For example, Australians have ranches to raise sheep, and then they export the sheep’s wool all over the world. With the quantity of elephants in South Africa, they can create a similar business with elephants like Australia did as a legal trade. To raise them more in manmade circumstance is going to create more value for them. After that, it is possible to cut the ivory and develop the economy legally. But before that, we have to protect the endangered animals well.

              In conclusion, relaxing the ivory trade and turning beginning to develop the products in any protected resource, is not good for elephants. It will cause many unexpected problems, such as encouraging poaching. Human commercial interests shouldn't impact any species. All the countries need to be mobilized to protect endangered species. With the economy developing, we have to have foresight. A sustainable environment requires people’s efforts to take care of wildlife. Besides, people's demands cannot be reduced, but we can create values with effective ways to protect any species and satisfy what people want without harming them. All in all, human is the only specie require responsible for any kinds of disturbances of nature.


Nielsen J. (2007, January 2). Poachers Target African Elephant for Ivory Tusks. NPR. Retrieved June 1, 2009, from

Taylor J. (2008, October 29). Warning over poachers as ivory is sold legally; UN allows China and Japan to buy 108 tons in African auctions. The Independent. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from LexisNexis database.

The stampede to resume ivory trading. (2007, June 2). The Independent. Retrieved June 8, 2009 from LexisNexis database.

United States Department of State. (2007, May 31). Unite States, Canada and Africa; Alarming rise in elephant ivory trafficking. Africa News. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from LexisNexis database.

Use them or lose them; Conservation. (2008, April 18). The Economist, Retrieved May 26, 2009, from LexisNexis database.

Why legal ivory trade id better for the elephants. (2008, August 12). Africa News. Retrieved June 8, 2009 from LexisNexis database.

No comments:

Post a Comment