2-The Ivory Trade
Recent research by STE revealed that an estimated 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in Africa between 2010 and 2012. The number of elephants remaining in Africa is uncertain, but are likely to be in the region of 500,000. Taking into account births these losses are driving declines in the world’s wild African elephants on the order of 2-3% a year. The ivory trade is fueling organized crime and insecurity as traffickers smuggle tusks through the same networks as other high value illegal goods such as drugs. Ultimately the trade is driven by demand for ivory in consumer countries, mostly in the East, where it is sought after as a status symbol and an investment.
Elephant hide and hair is another product that may be poached, but not to the degree of ivory. The hide is used for luxury items and the hair for jewelry products.
The shooting of elephants for sport is another major threat. Likewise, the illegal capture of elephants, especially in Asia, for use in circuses, tourist sports and as work animals features as another threat. Animals are captured and used in servitude, to move logs, etc. as well as to perform for tourists. They are often maltreated and do not live long lives.
Illness is common amongst elephants and can be a serious threat to the survival of the herd. Elephant pox seems to be a strain of normal cow pox and is one of the most dangerous diseases for elephants. Most often, it is spread to the elephants from rodents. It is lethal, and was responsible for the death of many elephants until vaccination programs became available. Rabies is a disease one would not associate with elephants, but this is another fatal disease they face. Fortunately, it is not passed on to the other members of the herd.
What can we do?
As we mentioned, there are many threats regarding to elephants. Here’s how we get involved in helping to save the elephants, before it’s too late.
1. Clearly, don’t buy ivory
Or sell it, or wear it. New ivory is strictly banned, but antique ivory can be legally available for purchase. Ivory has traditionally been used for jewelry, billiard balls, pool cues, dominos, fans, piano keys and carved trinkets. Shunning antique ivory is a clear message to dealers that the material is not welcomed, and it's an easy way to show your solidarity with the elephants.
2. Buy elephant-friendly coffee and wood
Coffee and timber crops are often grown in plantations that destroy elephant habitats. Make sure to buy Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber and certified fair trade coffee.
3. Do not buy palm oil
The palm oil industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change and animal cruelty. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction.