#OurWorld The Burning of Ivory
Hi there! Frankie here with our first #OurWorld post. Sam and I hope to raise awareness of different world matters every week, from wildlife conservation and human interest to current political items.
Today, I am starting with the burning of ivory.
On the 30th of April 2016, in Nairobi National Park, huge pyres of ivory were set ablaze and left to burn to ash as armed guards kept watch.
Over one hundred tons of elephant tusks, and just over a ton of rhinoceros horn were destroyed in an attempt to halt the damaging ivory trade. With a combined estimated value of £68 million, the stockpile consisted of ivory confiscated from illegal poaching.
When I first heard about the mass burning, I questioned the logic behind such an action. It was being shown on many conservation sites as a significant and symbolic act which would be seen as a deterrent for illegal poaching. But, surely destroying such a vast amount of ivory would simply drive up the price of ivory and lead to more aggressive and profitable poaching?
While many believe the act counter-intuitive to the goal of destroying the illegal ivory trade, the rationale behind the destruction was not simply a badly thought-out display of symbolic outrage at the unnecessary slaughter of countless animals. It was a distinctly clever way of showing that there should never be any stockpile of such a commodity.
The existence of such stockpiles sustains the belief that ivory is worth more to man than the animals to which it naturally belongs. It is a costly and difficult endeavor to maintain ivory stockpiles; it has to be kept in certain conditions so as to prevent deterioration. But the very act of stockpiling ivory, gives the impression it is indeed a valuable commodity which can and will be sold one day and therefore perpetuates the senseless slaughter of these animals until extinction. It increases the perception that ivory poaching is acceptable and, indeed, required to meet the demand such an existence of hoarding creates. And this is not to mention the demand from such people who simply like to spend inordinate sums of cash on the unique and rare.
It is said that every fifteen minutes, an elephant is killed in order to feed the ivory trade. Not only are these beautiful creatures killed, they are brutally hacked to pieces while alive, and left to die once their tusks are removed. I do not need to show pictures of such brutality, I am sure you have seen it. There was some sixteen thousand tusks in those pyres; eight thousand dead elephants from an already rapidly dwindling population.
It is estimated that approximately 34,000 elephants are slaughtered by poachers each year for their ivory. (WildAid, elephants) While over a thousand rhinoceros are slaughtered each year for their horns. (WildAid, Rhino) Both species are being driven towards extinction. Indeed, while both species are already considered endangered, it is likely that rhinoceros may become extinct within a decade if their killing continues. (The Express) Despite the banning of international trading of ivory by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1989, illegal ivory poaching has increased in recent years. (CITES Press release 3/3/2016) It is well known that poorer communities see ivory as a means to feed themselves and their children. As such, it is a difficult trade to destroy.
“At the other end, extreme poverty means some people see wildlife as valuable barter for trade.” (WWF)
While this may be true, and in itself tragic, the ivory trade funds criminal networks and terrorism around the globe. This is clearly illustrated in the short film: Last Days, below.
(WARNING: Graphic content including disturbing scenes of the Westgate Mall, Kenya, attack in 2013 approximately 1 minute in, which lasts for 28 seconds. And animated elephant poaching 2:20 in, which lasts for 18 seconds.)
The illegal poaching industry is obviously a problem battled for many years with no real end in sight as yet. But the burning of the ivory in Kenya last month was a bold statement which told the world that Africa condemns the decimation of a more precious commodity than ivory: their beautiful wildlife.
There are many ways to help bring illegal ivory trade to an end. Pledge to never buy ivory. Donate to the organisations battling this and other ongoing conservation issues. Or simply support them by increasing awareness through sharing their work, and completing their letters to politicians. You will find links to some of the organisations below and I encourage you to have a read through their statistics and stories to understand the complex problems faced by both our environment and wildlife populations.
It’s not just about looking after animals, it is about taking care of our planet and its inhabitants before we lose it all.
F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE
Posted on May 17, 2016, in #OurWorld, Frankeh Updates, Updates and tagged CITES, elephant, elephants, endangered, environment, environmental, exinct, extinction, illegal, IUCN, Ivory, Kenya, Last Days, Nairobi, Our World, poaching, racing extinction, red list, rhino, rhinoceros, rhinos, save the planet, save the world, species, trade, tusks, wildaid, wildlife, wildlife conservation, wwf. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.