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Updated on May 2, 2011

Elephants are amongst the most intelligent creatures on earth, capable of displaying emotional qualities such as grief, altruism, cooperation, humour, affection, and discernment. Some can even display artistic inclinations,( ever heard of an elephant "artist", if not, you can see one on youtube).

The the long history of the elephant is one soaked in horrific bloodshed and forever tied to the ivory trade, especially in the case of the African elephant. In his book "Africa's Elephants": A Biography, Martin Meredith explains that even as far back as 500BC, an entire herd of Syrian elephants had been entirely wiped out.

By its very nature ivory is extremely pliable and can be shaped into different forms. Egyptians, for example, used ivory for carving reliefs, statuary and other fancy items. Again, during the colonization of Africa, obtaining  ivory became a frenzy among the Europeans. In consequence,  800 to 1,000 tons of ivory were exported to Europe.

We would think that the history of the elephant would improve with the passing of time and the birth of modern civilization, but the 19th century witnessed an unprecedented thirst for ivory as it had never seen before. Many countries scrambled to Africa in the quest of ivory that could be carved into billiard balls, piano keys, charms, and many other salable items appealing to "wealthy status" seekers. In consequence, the 19th century saw entire populations of African elephants exterminated. To make a sad story, even sadder, by the 20th century, most of West Africa's elephants had been wiped out. Although, the breakout of world war put a halt to the trade, it proved short lived, and by the 1970's the ivory trade had resurrected. In 1997, the 'Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species' (CITES), an international treaty with over 160 member nations prohibited the commercial marketing of ivory and the illegal poaching of elephants. Unfortunately, due to the lack of accurate and extensive inside field reporting, the road to the African elephant population recovery is slow, and a long way ahead. As a matter of fact, many are shocked to learn that ivory and other illegal wildlife sales are only 2nd to illegal drugs and weapon trafficking.

For this reason among many other, animal lovers and conservationists world-wide need to take a stand against buying ivory, lest we see the complete disappearance of the African elephant by the year 2020, according to reliable statistics. IFAW, an organization that seeks protection for endangered animals, continue working with governments around the world to approach poaching problems in crisis areas. This last week, IFAW reported the killing of 30 elephants in Chad. In a recent article, director of IFAW's Southern Africa regional office, Jason Bell-Leask expressed his concern: "I cannot fathom how in this day and age, the use of ivory in whatever form to "blow your own trumpet", is still being promoted..., Ivory is nothing more than a status symbol and a bloody one at that! "

I share the same sentiment. Tusks don't grow on trees, they grow on the bodies of living creatures that can feel anguish and pain, just as we do.

You can Read IFAW Animal Wire Here:

Cited References: "Massacred – 30 Elephants Die for Their Ivory —" N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. <>.


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