The ivory trade is the trading of Ivory tusks of Asian or African Elephants for the creation of Piano keys, Stamps, jewellery, etc. The demand for Ivory led to extensive poaching of elephants and other animals for ivory. Excessive hunting reduced the African Elephant population from 1.3 Million in 1979 to just 0.4 Million in 2012 (CITES, 2012) and the business of Ivory trade has tripled since 1998, killing 17000 Elephants in 2011 alone (The Washington Post, 2013).
The ivory pricing of killing one elephant is roughly $20000 resulting in widespread poaching(Kramer, 2008). The Ivory trade also invokes other forms of hunting of animals for their skins, bones, etc. or for entertainment and has resulted in a reduction of rhino and tiger population by 90% in the last 100 years (Messer, 2000). Poaching is mostly illegal and causes various economic and social problems, along with environmental (CITES, 2012):
- Environmental- The Ivory trade and hunting results in the killing of existing animals, reduction in reproduction and an overall decrease in biodiversity and Elephants are responsible for the distribution of plant seeds naturally and their killing impacts the local vegetation in long run.
- Economic- The hunting results in loss of habitat and increased human–animal conflict resulting in loss of human lives and property and also loss of fauna, which decreases sources of income through tourism and agricultural trade. The hunting results in widespread trade of M99 and high-end weapons which is also a huge economic impact.
- Social- an increase of criminal activities and formation of militant groups for the ivory trade hampers the society and its overall structure and also causes problems of law and order. The increasing human–animal conflict also endangers society. The killing of elephants is also done through M99 which is more potent than morphine and can result in increased drug abuse in society. (Wildlife Extra, 2012)
The humongous size and growth of demand for ivory can be reduced by:
- Focus on Ethical Trade: the 100 tons of Ivory is produced from elephants dying of natural causes each year and all possible uses can be limited to use from the available ethical trade (Kooten, 2005). The practice must be enforced for legal trading and fixation of quota to reduce poaching. The requirements of Asian countries can be fulfilled by 25 tons and this will also help to add a source of income to African countries and help in the reduction of militancy and human-animal conflict and improvement in a natural habitat which will result in income through tourism. (Walker, 2009)
- Bilateral Trade agreement: USA and China are the largest markets for ivory and all of it is illegal, a bilateral trade agreement with African countries will help to reduce poaching and help in the redevelopment of natural habitat (McGrath, 2013).
The focus on ethical trade will reduce poaching over time and help in the establishment of better habitats resulting in reducing Human-animal conflicts. The legal trade will reduce problems of militancy and improve law and order and social structure. This will also help to improve the tourism and development of African countries.
- CITES (2012).Elephant conservation, illegal killing and ivory trade. Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, Geneva (Switzerland),
- Elephant database (2012) Online Available at: http://www.elephantdatabase.org/preview_report/2013_africa/Loxodonta_africana/2012/Africa Accessed on 14th May 2014
- Kooten, G. (2005). Elephant Economics in the Rough: Modeling Ivory Trade. University of Victoria, Canada.p:33-35.
- Kramer, E. (2008). Trade-in mammoth ivory, helped by a global thaw, flourishes in Russia. The New York times news, Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/25/world/europe/25iht-mammoth.4.11415717.html?_r=0Accessed on 14th May 2014
- McGrath, M. (2013).‘Gang of eight’ on ivory probation. BBC News, Bangkok, Available on: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-21788664?ocid=socialflow_twitter_africa Accessed on 14th May 2014
- Messer, K (2000). The Poacher’s Dilemma: The Economics of Poaching and Enforcement. Cornell University, Warren Hall, Ithaca. P:57-61.
- Walker, J. (2009). Ivory’s Ghosts: The White Gold of History and the Fate of Elephants.p:128-130.
- Wildlife Extra (2012). South Africa vets & hunters involved in rhino poaching. Wildlife Extra.Online Available at: http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/rhino-m99.html#crAccessed on 14th May 2014.
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