Every 24 hours 55 Elephants are killed. This amounts to over 20,000 a year. Why? For their tusks. 450g of ivory can sell for as much as £1150.
The international trade in illegal ivory is estimated to be worth £17billion each year, but the effect it is having on our wildlife is startling. To think that around 100 years ago, there were roughly 10 million Elephants in the world, and now there are just 400,000 (a drop of 110,000 over the last 10 years). Each day this number is dropping by 55. How long before we cause another species to go extinct for the sake of money?
The UK has enacted “one of the world’s toughest bans” on ivory sales with anyone found guilty of selling ivory of any age facing a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail. Exemptions are for “rare and important items” that are at least 100 years old, items made before 1947 that contain less than 10% ivory and musical instruments with less than 20% ivory made before 1975.
Things are potentially looking better internationally. For example, just a few days ago Tanzania sentenced Yang Fenglan (nicknamed “Ivory Queen”) to 15 years in jail for operating one of Africa’s biggest ivory-smuggling rings, responsible for smuggling around £1.9million worth of tusks from around 400 Elephants. However, we still see very often affluent businessmen and women from upper class communities poaching animals for sport and for “fun”.
More work must be done but in order for real change to occur, perceptions must be changed. Whether the motive is money or medicine, the ivory trade is not needed and must stop before it is too late. Many countries around the world still continue to allow some form of commercial ivory trade in their country or with surrounding countries, particularly in East Asia and Africa. What is required is a complete and total ban in ivory sales with strict prosecution penalties for those involved in the ivory trade in any way shape or form.
The new generations must be educated about the issue so they have the knowledge and ability to tackle it if they see it. We must put pressure on our government to force others to make any form of ivory trade illegal and seek harsh penalties. Perhaps countries need to provide more funding to conservation efforts such as 24/7 patrols in poaching hotspots.
If you’re wondering what you can do to tackle this issue and make a difference then you should look for organisations that campaign actively against the Ivory Trade. Organisations such as Born Free, WWF, Fauna and Flora International and Save the Elephants do some fantastic work in tackling the issue and you can donate at their websites. You can also educate others on the matter and raise awareness of how big of an issue it really is. Too many species of animals are becoming endangered or extinct due to the greed of humanity and many are completely oblivious to it. Knowledge is power when applied; fight against this horrid trade.