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Blood Ivory

Updated on September 5, 2014
Source

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.

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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.

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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.

Source

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

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  • Mary McShane profile image
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    Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Hello Cuttler, Thank you for your first hand views. It is so very sad but I am still honored to have written this hub on such a terrorizing and abusive subject.

    Thank you for voting and for sharing it. The more who learn or re-learn (in case they forgot!) about elephant abuse, then maybe more awareness and outreach can be possible. Thank you,

    Mary

  • Mary McShane profile image
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    Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    @Colleen Swan, Forgive the late acknowledgement to your comment. I was away on holiday and just got home last night. Thank you for stopping by to read my hub and to comment. I'm hoping by writing about Blood Ivory that it makes more people aware. TYVM

    Mary

  • cuttler profile image

    Cuttler 3 years ago from HubPages

    Damn all the poachers of this world. They have stolen so much beauty from this earth and it seems they will stop at nothing. Living in Kenya, I see it almost everyday in the news. Elephants being killed for nothing more than the tusks they bear. Am glad you shared this witht the rest of the world. Voted up, and shared on all spectra of social media.

  • Colleen Swan profile image

    Colleen Swan 3 years ago from County Durham

    Thank you Mary for bringing this tragedy to the forefront. I tend to forget what awful things are going on in my busy life. Thank you for the reminder. Great hub.

  • Mary McShane profile image
    Author

    Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Thank you to all who read, view the videos and commented on this hub.

    It saddens me and sickens me what is being done to these poor animals simply because they have something that certain people covet. I'm against all kinds of hunting and I take a lot of heat for that opinion. I answer that we are all entitled to our own opinions and that puts people off a bit from attacking me. When it comes to hunting animals not for food but to make baubles from their body parts, to me - that is even worse than hunting them to eat them.

    I wrote this hub because I am appalled at what is being done to these animals and want anyone who reads this to be just as appalled, to go forth and share their opinions (and this hub if they so choose) to make everyone aware that humans allow this to go on and only humans can put a stop to it.

  • idigwebsites profile image

    idigwebsites 3 years ago from United States

    I'm so devastated... if only the government of those countries that permit ivory hunting give their people opportunities then these poaching should have stopped (but of course this is easier said than done). These people especially in the developing countries don't poach for pleasure but for profit.

    Whatever the reasons, poaching for pleasure or for profit... it is still us humans who continue to ravage Mother Nature, and they don't care if these animals suffer or die. This is what saddens me. Can't help mourning for the elephants.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I wrote about this last year. It disgusts me...everything about it disgusts me....man's inhumanity on display. Thank you for raising awareness. Keep up the good fight and hopefully those with some wisdom will prevail.

    bill

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Oh Mary, this is a horrible tragedy. Another result of mainly Asian demand for animal body parts for either commercial purposes or to increase male virility or culinary tastes. Something needs to be done to educate and change the mindset of the people demanding these products. It disgusts me, as does the removal of shark fins for soup, poaching of rhinos for their horns, bears for the milking of their bile ducts, gorillas for their heads, hands and feet. These things prove mankind is the most vile and heartless of all the animals on Earth. Hubs like this help to reveal these travesties. Thank you. Voted up.