An introduction to the problem: If this video doesn't make you feel compassion and empathy, nothing will.A brief history into the ivory trade - Earth Touch
What is ivory?The definition of Ivory provided by Wikipedia states, "Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusks and teeth of animals. It consists mainly of dentine, one of the physical structures of teeth and tusks. The chemical structure of the teeth and tusks of mammals is the same regardless of the species origin.”
The above definition is rather broad - it mentions no information about how ivory is obtained leaving a lot of gaps to be filled in.
We will cover the main points on the epidemic as it stands at this present moment. As well as the routes that the most common traffickers use to trade the ivory, the amount of ivory they normally transport, and finally we will touch on the ivory ban that thankfully came into effect at the end of 2017 to early January 2018.
We strongly believe that awareness will help eradicate illegal poaching and the slaughter of innocent animals. With awareness comes a higher probability to make others take a stand and to take action - massive action!
If more people become aware and are able to support the organizations that are helping beautiful animals of all kinds, then we have a chance that our loved ones may also have the privilege of seeing these magnificent animals in all their glory.
There are many organizations that support a wide array of animals, in all sorts of niches. These organizations will be our partners in the near future, merely because we want to support every possible cause we can! The question is, will you?
Given that, let's dive into this massive issue, where we address the concern for elephants and where we look at how severe the matter is.
Let's give some context as to why ivory holds the value it does.
Why is ivory so expensive?Ivory carries a high market value due to the mere fact that, as a commodity, it is quite scarce. It also has the potential to be transformed into a wide array of luxurious products that carry a rather hefty price. These products are made from the tusks of the elephants and have a phenomenal finished look..
These products include, but are not limited to, paintings, carvings, piano keys (it is said no other material is able to offer the pianist the stick or grace to slide on the keys as ivory keys do. Other materials do not absorb the moisture released from your fingers whilst playing), okimonos and netsukes which are basically little ornaments made from ivory - they could also be considered “statues”, billiard balls for pool or snooker, a container for either food or water, as well as fashioned into souvenirs of all kinds.
It must be stated that billiard balls and piano keys in the 21st century are and should be synthetically made to resemble ivory as closely as possible. This has been in effect since around the 1970s as during the 1960s the supply for ivory began to start becoming scarce. The name of this synthetic ivory is known as RRIvory.
Are there any alternatives for ivory?
If you think of ivory and all that it is used for, the options for alternatives are readily available. But some unfortunately see the alternatives as unsatisfactory. These people should seriously have their heads checked, as support of the ivory trade is truly barbaric!
It not only destroys the families of the elephants, but it also plays a direct role in disrupting the eco-systems that elephants are part of. See our post, An Introductory Guide into Elephants with Facts About Elephants, to learn the crucial role elephants play in aiding and balancing eco-systems.
The alternatives for ivory are:
Old bone:Although this is not exactly ivory, or close to the end product you would have with ivory, bone of deceased mammals all contain dentine, which is the key component to teeth or tusks.
White Jade:Not exactly the same hue as ivory, white jade appears to be quite shiny in appearance, it is likely more expensive but it is nonetheless a great substitute to ivory.
White coral:White coral is a rather interesting alternative. It seems to be hugely overlooked in today's markets. However, it is an awesome material, that is quite versatile, durable and allows for a really incredible smooth finished products.
Possibly the greatest alternative on this list. The Tagua Nut is a fantastic substitute, with a finished look that strongly resembles ivory in all its glory.
It can be sourced in a way that is environmentally friendly and it could be possible to meet the demand with this unique supply, if active steps are taken to plant enough of these trees!
The beauty about this alternative is, it allows other hues to blend in. For instance, it allows an amber-brown to blend ever so swiftly through the material. This unique characteristic makes it a fantastic medium for artists to work with!
It is strongly recommended to look at the Tagua Nut as the best alternative to replace ivory. Bone, Coral, and White Jade would eventually be consumed and face the exact challenge being faced by elephants. Therefore, taking a proactive approach with the planting of the trees would be best for the large quantities needed.
As another alternative, you may use a technology known as bio-printing. Bio-printing is basically 3D printing of bones, organs, cartilage, and cells of all kinds, as long as the required requirements to produce these are met.
Using bio-printing to produce the ivory-like material, you would need to use dentine tissue found primarily in bones. This substance acts as the catalyst for the growth of the cells needed to produce the bio-printed ivory.
How much is ivory worth?We would have to say it's not worth any of the lives taken! Pity that not a lot of people feel that way.
See the video below where they speak of and run through the figures of this trade.
Illegal ivory: where does it come from, where does it go? - The Economist
The demand seems to be driven by greed as well as the so-called medicinal uses as tusks are high in calcium phosphate. This basically means that the slaughtering of elephants that is taking place is to cure sore throats and to fill pockets. If this is truly the case, with its medicinal uses being so minute, why not just take a damn lozenge for your throat!?
Are there bans in place?
The demand for ivory creates a massive market for illegal trade. Thankfully, the biggest consumers being China, enforced a ban that prohibited the trade of legal ivory. This is a massive win! It however still leaves the illegal market wide open in Asia and Southeast Asia. The odds are there are many other countries that have this epidemic riddled through their countries as well. Even though all countries banned the use, sale, and manufacturing of items produced from ivory in 1989, the illegal trade still persists. The question is, what will they do if there aren't any animals left to harvest the ivory from?
Its estimated that around 70% of all the world's ivory is trafficked to and end up in China.
Why is the situation so crucial?
The sad fact is, there are only so many of them left gracing the open lands. The numbers are quite alarming! It is estimated that there are only 470 000 elephants left across the entire world.
The alarming bit that stands out is that ever since these elephants numbers started to decline so rapidly, the price for their tusks increased dramatically as the “supply” is much less, skyrocketing the overall value of the ivory.
Could you believe that in the last century alone, 90% of the entire elephant population has been whipped out? That says a lot about us human beings! To paint that picture more clearly, poachers slaughter around 20 000 elephants each year, that equates to around 55 adult elephants per day. How disgusting is that?!
Well other than the above-mentioned statistics and figures, on average elephants only reach sexual maturity at around 10 years old. They don't mature fully to reproduce until around 20 years old. Given this, every generation will need to be 20 years old before they are able to reproduce. In addition, the gestation period in around 22 months, which is almost two full years of pregnancy!
Adding to this already hugely delayed timeline for new generations, the calves require the mother's milk for many years before they are able to source food and feed for themselves. This increases the timeline by at least 5 to 7 years. The odds that the mother will fall pregnant again whilst she is rearing the young calf is slim to none, as the mother will do everything she can to ensure the young calf grows strong, stays healthy and remains well.
Many countries have taken active steps to prosecute poachers, end this illegal trade and to ensure the survival of elephants for future generations to come. There are organizations fighting for the protection of elephants in various countries, providing support, medical supplies, education and general help in support of keeping them around.
The question then stands, is this action enough? Or should we 10x the amount that we are currently helping to guarantee these majestic elephants stay free from harm for many generations to come.
What will you do to take a stand?
We're running a giveaway where we sell 1,000 Aromatherapy Elephant Necklaces in order to raise funds for the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)'s Elephant fund.
We do not have an affiliation to WW. This is just us loving what they're doing to fight the poaching trade and protect elephants and their young.
Will you help?