The Ivory Trade

By Sydney York

Humans are built on greed and the hunger for wealth and status. It is ubiquitous to see people pursue extreme or unlawful measures just to obtain what they desire. Unfortunately the overwhelming selfishness of humans affects many other people and even animals depending on the case. One major crime that is still practiced today is the ivory trade, which is the commercial and illegal trade in ivory tusks of animals like elephants. Insatiable human greed for the tusks or ‘teeth’ of elephants has caused a rapid decline in the elephant population. 

The importance of tusks to elephants is unimaginable. These adapted incisors or teeth are used to strip bark off trees, protect the young, dig up roots and water, and also hold things down so the elephants can eat. In other words, elephants rely on their tusks to survive. Sadly, African and Asian elephants are already one of the top endangered species on the planet, which makes the whole situation even more complex. 

Although both Asian and African elephants are endangered, traffickers or criminals continue to poach elephants and sell their tusks for trinkets, jewelry, or other miscellaneous objects in Africa. About 20,000 African elephants are poached each year, which means  around 55 per day. There are less than 415,000 wild elephants across Africa, which shows how fast the population is declining. This is all mainly due to the high demand for their valuable tusks.

Ivory is seen as a symbol of status, because it is hard to obtain. Furthermore, it is considered ‘white gold’ in some parts of Africa, especially in the East. But with more and more elephants being poached, and illegal trading networks being made, the ivory trade is an enormous threat to the security and population of elephants.