ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Poaching Elephants for Ivory

Updated on March 16, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

I'm interested in social issues, relationships, problems of daily living, jobs, exercise, poems and fiction, plus safer living conditions.

African Elephant


Demise of Elephants

I recently watched a National Geographic show on TV about elephants, and while I learned a wealth of information, I was shocked at the volume of elephants killed for their ivory.

In 1997, there were 13 million elephants, but in 2007 the elephant population is between 472,000 and 690,000. Most of that ivory seemed to make its way to China, and it is quite expensive to purchase. This slaughter is happening primarily in African countries, and while it is against the law it is difficult to catch the thieves.

Elephants Bathing


Facts on Elephants

Elephants are endangered animals for a variety of reasons. Their habitat is dwindling due to man, and their habitat is becoming hotter, which means drier conditions and less available food. This is particularly tough on the calves. Poaching for ivory is growing and a major problem, particularly in Africa.

These social animals are huge, as males are 10 to13 feet tall, up to 30 feet long from the tail to the trunk and weigh from 6,000 to 15,000 pounds. Their lifespan is about 70 years. The calves weigh about 200-225 pounds at birth. Elephants have deep family bonds and the females stay together for life.

The herd is led by the oldest and usually largest female of the herd, called the matriarch. Older elephants teach the young. The whole herd protects the newborn calves. The males leave the herd between the ages of 12 to 15 years, and they lead solitary lives or sometimes they may live temporarily with other males.

Raised Trunk is a Warning


More Elephant Facts

Another interesting fact is they communicate when they produce sub-sonic rumbles that travel over the ground faster than sounds travel through the air. They can hear through their feet as their skin is sensitive on their feet and on their trunks. They flap their big ears to control the temperature of their body.

They are intelligent, and their memories span many years. This memory is what allows the matriarch to lead the herd for miles to find water in the dry months. They mourn the loss of a member and never forget where the loss occurred. Elephants play, show joy, show grief and anger.

Over the past 10 years the African elephants are showing fear and run from men without provocation. They will have secretions from their temporal scent glands, which are a sign of fear. This is due to the vast number of poachers, and the death of so many elephants.

Babies Protected in the Middle of Group

Amboseli National Park by Mount Kilaminjaro
Amboseli National Park by Mount Kilaminjaro | Source

Elephants in Africa

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the African elephant as endangered, with good reason. More than 56 percent of elephants live in southern Africa, and poaching is now becoming a bigger problem in that area and also in eastern Africa.

Prior to this time the bulk of the poaching was done in central Africa. Poachers are killing elephants by the tens of thousands for their ivory. In 2012, 200 elephants were massacred in Cameroon by poachers. The largest game reserve in Africa is the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania where 30,000 elephants were killed last year. Poachers are even killing younger elephants that have much smaller tusks.

How Poaching is Changing the Face of African Elephants

Poaching Elephants for Ivory

In 2011, President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya set fire to five tons of contraband ivory as a symbol of their commitment to ban the killing of the elephants. They wanted to demonstrate to the world their serious concern about the fates of these great mammals. Unfortunately, he did make a statement, but it did not stop the poaching. Kenya has wild life rangers that are licensed to shoot to kill if they cannot stop poachers with weapons.

Due to automatic weapons and some poachers even own helicopters, poaching is over-all well organized, and it is difficult for authorities to control. In 1989, international ivory trade was officially banned by the Convention in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which did close some of the ivory markets. However, it did not stop poaching and some African nations see ivory as bringing economic benefit to their country.

Chinese Demand for Ivory

The price has tripled over the past year for raw elephant tusks in China. The purchasing power in China has is growing the demand for ivory. The Chinese see ivory as a status symbol, and love to own make beautiful hand carved statues, jewelry, chop sticks and even middle class Chinese families often own pieces of ivory art. They also like to have carved ivory Buddha. There is every reason to think diplomats and the Chinese government is involved in ivory trade.

There are 136 retailers that have permission to sell ivory products, but the shops sell ivory illegally are plentiful. There is a current investigation of the Beijing antique mall as they found 20 shops selling ivory illegally.

How Poaching s Changing the Face of African Elephants

Ivory Pieces

When I was a child my father traveled for business and went to Aruba. At that time ivory was available and used for many things, such as piano keys and billiard balls. My father bought some carved ivory pieces for my mother, which I have pictured below. He had the little village shipped, and unfortunately some pieces were broken when it arrived. It is still beautiful.

Ivory Elephants

Pam's photo
Pam's photo


Certainly the carved ivory pieces are beautiful, but at what cost? We did not consider their slaughter back when I was a child.

It is heart breaking that so many thousands of elephants are slaughterd for their ivory and maybe a bit a meat. One has to wonder if elephants will still be roaming the earth 25 years from now

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)