Ivory Trade Catastrophe the Impacts of Elephant Poaching

Many people may not know where a few everyday things such as piano keys, billiard balls, and identification chops come from; it’s actually Ivory. Ivory is the whitish colored substance that makes up the tusks of elephants. But in order for humans to acquire this material, they have to poach elephants and remove the tusks, which has led to endangerment of the elephant species in more recent years; especially in Africa.

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Despite the 1989 ban put on poaching elephants for their ivory, (Wikipedia) hunters still continue to do it illegally, desperate to continue selling it. These actions will come out to negative consequences because elephants are important to their environment. Elephant population is rapidly declining and it’s important we stop this, so we don’t lose a vital part of Africa’s ecosystem. Some may ask, what is the cause of this economic conflict?

        To begin, there are many factors that contribute to elephant poaching. Ivory has been considered a valuable material for hundreds of years, even in today’s society it’s purchased frequently. The illegal trade continues due to high demand that mirrors Asia’s economic growth. (birds.Cornell.edu) over the course of the 1990s to 2007, the price has increased by $750 per kilogram. Many people sell and or trade ivory due to poverty. Poverty is the state of being extremely poor, so people have to resort to other methods of acquiring money. Since selling ivory provides an income source, many people will kill elephants to get it, in desperation to obtain wealth. This is causing a rapid decline in the elephant population. It’s an effective method, simply not an ethical one. As of 2017, the price was around $730 per kilogram, according to a report by two ivory trade experts (phys.org). These selfish acts can lead to significantly disastrous outcomes not only for the elephants, but for the environment and the people in the areas as well.

        Consequently, elephant poaching could be linked to many future issues in Africa. One growing problem is of course, extinction of the elephants in general. In 1930, there were between 5 and 10 million African elephants. By 1989, there were about 600,000 remaining, less than one percent of their original number. (birds.Cornell.edu) This causes disturbances in the food chain. They play a vital role in the food chain, being one of the primary consumers. Elephants as well as rhinos are herbivores. Without elephants, tigers would have one less food source. This also affects the social structure of a community, as poachers tend to kill the adult elephants. This leaves calves with no sense of water source or direction for migration routes. Similar to drug trafficking, extinction of the elephant population would also cost more environmental damage than most people would think. Contradictory to popular belief, elephants do many things for their environment. One thing they do is help shape the landscape. They do this by trampling through forests and undergrowth, which result in clearings that make space for new plant growth. Also, they help spread seeds around that are too big for the wind or smaller animals to carry. Furthermore, they dig water holes in dry river beds that other animals can use as a water source. A third effect of ivory poaching is an economic downgrade in some regions of Africa. They’re popular in the tourist community, therefore, bringing lots of money to different areas in Africa. Ivory poaching would have a significant effect on the environment, the animals around, and some humans. Some volunteers and wildlife experts are attempting to eliminate the cause of this conflict.

        On the other side of the spectrum, there are people who are against ivory poaching. Not only are they against it, but they’re willing to do something to make a change. There are a few courses of action they’re taking to protect the elephant species. Essentially, we could boycott the ivory industry. By refusing to buy ivory products, demand would decrease, therefore the poachers would need less supply. By doing this, fewer elephants would need to be poached. People could also avoid going to circuses, seeing as they usually use captured animals, elephants being one of the main, most popular events. Also, not everyone can go out into the world and do things to help the elephants. Something people could do at home is support the organizations that are trying to make changes, by donating money or spreading the word about them. There are many options one could choose from. For example, The International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), which has been working since 2009 to find solutions to terminate elephant poaching for ivory (Bardroff, Jenna). Lastly, someone could adopt an elephant! It may be a long shot, but it would be one less elephant that would be used for business. It may also raise awareness and prove that people really do care about these animals. By avoiding ivory purchases, raising awareness and supporting change, there are things that ordinary everyday people can do to prevent this global conflict.

        In conclusion, ivory poaching has really taken a toll on Africa. It’s become such a problem that it’s now illegal for citizens of China to buy, sell or trade ivory products, considering they were the biggest ivory consumers (Ebsco). As the population declines, it’s important that people take action against the poaching for ivory so that we don’t lose a valuable species. Earth is simply one big chain of beings who should be coming together to bring peace and hope for a better future, not degrading one another.

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