Will the Ivory Trade Drive Elephants to Extinction?

We had a benefit dinner for the March for Elephants at Sanctuary Bistro. It is such an amazing and passionate group of people putting all of their time and efforts into changing the way the world connects with the animals. They are working so hard to make sure that future generations have an opportunity to share this earth with rhinos and elephants. Don’t you think the future deserves this? Don’t you think the amazing elephants and rhinos deserve this. Tamara Birdsall wrote this guest blog sharing the truths about the treatment of elephants and rhinos today. It is extremely informative and haunting. Check it out and make sure to support them in their efforts, if you can.

Senseless Deaths

Every day 96 elephants are killed for no other reason than to satisfy the increasing global demand for ivory trinkets. Experts say that African elephants may be extinct within a generation. Elephant populations have fallen by as much as 76% by some estimates. In 2014 alone, roughly 45,000 elephants were shot or poisoned.

This senseless practice destabilizes Africa, fuels terrorism and causes horrible suffering to a highly intelligent, social and empathetic species.

There was a concerted effort to stop the slaughter in 1989 and again in 1990 when CITES, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, approved a worldwide ban on the ivory trade. But a lack of enforcement and shortsighted actions by several countries have significantly weakened the ban.

China is the World’s Largest Consumer of Elephant Tusks

China, where a growing middle class is buying ivory carvings as status symbols, is responsible for 70% of the worldwide trade. The country signed a pact to ban the ivory trade in 1981 but a 2008 exemption enabled it to buy over 60 tons of ivory from several African countries. The Chinese government releases a portion of that stockpile each year to carving factories but investigations have shown that this legal trade supports a large black market for poached ivory.

During a series of investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency between 2010 and 2015 an undercover investigator was told by Chinese ivory traders that at least 90% of the ivory in China is illegal.

In February of 2015, China announced a ban on the import of African ivory carvings for one year, but conservationists are skeptical. A Guardian story quotes a representative from The EIA who said, “With no detail or timeframe, the statement can only remain ambiguous, making congratulations and celebrations premature.”

The US is the World’s Second Largest Importer

In terms of percentages the US is far behind China but unfortunately we’re still the world’s second largest market for illegal ivory. While there are state and federal laws that prohibit the import and sale of some types of ivory, numerous loopholes make enforcement of those laws almost impossible. It’s widely acknowledged that the legal trade in antique ivory is often used as a cover for illegal trade.

On his trip to Kenya in July, President Obama announced new federal regulations that would restrict the sale of African elephant ivory across state lines. And several states have been working to pass stronger, more enforceable laws. New York, the largest US importer, recently banned the sale of most elephant ivory, mammoth tusks and rhino horns. Hopefully, Hawaii will soon follow with its own ban.

California is Still a Major Market for Ivory Sales

Loopholes make it nearly impossible to enforce California’s laws against the sale of ivory. Sadly, the Golden State is now the second largest market for ivory in the US and San Francisco is a major hub. A 2014 study by the NRDC showed that approximately 80% of the ivory sold in San Francisco was illegal under current California law.

Assembly Bill 96 Will Close California Loopholes

Earlier this year, California Assembly Speaker, Toni Atkins, introduced Assembly Bill 96. The bill calls for a virtual ban on sales of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn. Please let your California representatives know that you support AB 96!

The Ivory Trade Fuels Terrorism

Ivory sells for up to $1,500 a pound on the black market so it’s no surprise that many poachers are connected to criminal syndicates. Revenue from the deadly trade is a source of funding for several terrorist organizations. Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-backed Somali Terror group and Boko Haram, whose members kidnapped 276 Nigerian girls, have both been connected to the ivory trade.

The trafficking of wildlife is now the fourth largest transnational crime and according to the US State Department contributes nearly $10 billion in profits to criminal groups annually.

Why Elephants Matter

Apart from the undeniable tragedy of their potential loss, there are serious implications for the environment if elephants disappear. Dr. Sam Wasser, from the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology says that, “Elephants are the environmental architects. They keep woods down in the savannah and are the most important dispersers of seeds of rain forest trees.” Elephant herds are a key part of the central African rain forest ecosystem, which is the second most important area on Earth for capturing and storing carbon dioxide.

Rhinos May Be Closer to Extinction Than Elephants

The demand for rhino horn, which is falsely believed to have medicinal properties has decimated rhino populations. It’s estimated that only about 25,000 rhinos are left in the wild.

March With Us and Help Save Earth’s Last Elephants and Rhinos

– Please march with us on Saturday, October 3rd in San Francisco. We’ll meet at 10:30 in Jefferson Square Park on Gough and Eddy Streets and we’ll march to United Nations Plaza for a rally. Bring your friends and family!

– Email or call your California representatives and urge them to vote yes on Assembly Bill 96.

– Be generous and donate! Holding marches in San Francisco – and globally – is an expensive endeavor.
About March For Elephants

For the past several years, MFE has developed and participated in numerous advocacy and educational campaigns throughout the Bay Area. In partnership with Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, we’ve organized the San Francisco march for the past 3 years. Last year’s march – one of more than 130 events around the world – drew close to 2,000 participants

Please  join our 2015 March page and mark your calendars for Saturday, October 3.


Will the Ivory Trade Drive Elephants to Extinction?
Tamara Birdsall

“Will you let the ivory trade bring the elephants to extinction?”

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