ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Blood Ivory

Updated on September 5, 2014

Published December 4, 2013 by Mary McShane

When you were growing up, your first exposure to elephants was probably when you went the zoo. Or maybe you saw them in a movie or at a circus parading or doing tricks. This is the picture many of us have in our minds about elephants.

Elephants are very intelligent creatures. They are living, breathing animals who grow up to parent, forage and take care of their young. There is video documentation which captures elephants displaying grief, comradery, affection and even humor.

Warning, Graphic Content!

This article, along with the photographs and videos may be disturbing to some readers. I do feel compelled to give you that warning. However, as harsh as it sounds, I hope you do find this article and the videos very disturbing. Long after you have moved on to other activities of the day, it is my wish that the images and story will stay with you so that you initiate conversation to bring awareness to the plight of the elephant.

But in some parts of the world, elephants are not even viewed as animals. They are revered solely for the value of their ivory.

The rising demand for ivory coupled with the enormous amounts of money Asian dealers will pay for it is enticing all kinds of people to take up poaching for a living. Elephants are being butchered for their ivory tusks and the poachers are none too gentle about it. They savagely remove the tusks in any fashion they can.

Poachers have many ways of doing it, none of which are "humane." Some poachers don't want or can't bring themselves to shoot them, so they get a little creative with poisons.

But there are lots of elephants on earth, you say?

This elephant was killed by cyanide at a game reserve in Zimbabwe, South Africa
This elephant was killed by cyanide at a game reserve in Zimbabwe, South Africa | Source

Elephant Population

Just to put this into perspective, in the 1930s there were between 7 million and 10 million elephants in existence. Today there are between 300,000 and 500,000 left. That's pretty pathetic. To savagely kill these animals primarily to take their tusks for ornamental purposes is very sad.

Some people butcher elephants because enjoy eating elephant meat. But the majority of people who kill elephants do it for the money. Taking their tusks goes hand in hand with brutally slaughtering them because of the location of the tusks.

In various parts of Africa, a poacher can earn the equivalent of 12 years of farming just on the sale of the tusks of one elephant.

Poaching is at an all time high since the 1989 ban went into effect. According to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), up to 100,000 African elephants could be killed by illegal poachers in the next ten years.

It is offically open season on elephants in Africa.

This is why elephants are being slaughtered

Quoting this report from Johannesburg, South Africa by the Associated Press:

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — As many as 20 percent of Africa's elephants could be killed in the next 10 years if illegal poaching continues at the current rate, according to new data released Monday at the opening of the Elephant Summit in Botswana.

An estimated 22,000 elephants were illegally killed across Africa in 2012, slightly lower than the 25,000 elephants poached in 2011, according to a report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES.

The elephant killings took place at 42 sites across 27 Africa countries, said the CITES report.

A Different Kind of Poacher: Tribal Elephant Poachers

No One To Sell To

Can you imagine? In the above video, the poacher says that the only reason he stopped poaching is because the connection to his dealer died and he had no one to sell the ivory to. I think this is highly doubtful considering there is no lack of buyers with demand being so high.

That is just one case in point; not all poachers are tribal natives.

Methods Of Killing Elephants

Some even consider themselves aristocrats. For those who have an aversion to shooting the elephants, they are using cyanide to poison their watering holes where they drink water.

When they fall over dead, they take their ivory tusks in the most savage of ways imaginable, leaving carcasses scattered in pieces.

The problem with poisoning them with cyanide is that not only the elephant and the land is poisoned for years, but wildlife who feed on the carcasses of dead elephants are also poisoned.

The Ecosystem

Besides the horrors of slaughtering and butchering these creatures, losing the elephant population damages the ecosystem.

Elephants feed on the bark of over 70 species of trees, creating a habitat for other wildlife by germinating trees and spreading seeds. They also act like a bulldozer by knocking down trees which allows light to come through the forests. Eliminating elephants will kill off forests.

Ivory Seizures

From The Washington Post:

In November 2013, in an effort to send a message to ivory poachers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service destroyed six tons of confiscated African elephant ivory which was stored over the last 25 years.


In July 2013, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Ports Authority seized over 3 tons of ivory (over 775 pieces) which was in containers labelled as "peanuts." It is suspected that the ivory was on its way to Malaysia, a country heavily involved in trafficking illegal ivory.

In late July 2013, another confiscation resulted in seizing 382 whole tusks (some weighing as much as 60kg each) and 62 cut pieces.


The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is also instrumental in the war against poaching and protecting elephants. Click the link to view elephants in their wildlife habitat.


I hope you have time to view some of the stories at the links provided in this article. Thank you for reading.

© Mary McShane

© 2013 Mary McShane


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)