The Ivory Trade – Why it hasn’t gone away and why it needs to

The Ivory Trade – Why it hasn’t gone away and why it needs to

As a wildlife photographer, I have made it my mission to educate and inform people on some of the key threats that our natural world faces, which includes the imminent risk of extinction for elephants and rhinos across Africa and Asia.

Much of their demise and significantly dwindling numbers is down to the ivory trade, where illegal poaching and a wealthy buyers market have made this tactile and attractive carving material even more valuable and desirable.

During the 1980s, the WWF estimate that over 100,000 elephants were killed each year. This has since reduced thanks to an international trade ban on ivory that came into effect in 1989 and subsequent conservation projects that include law enforcement patrols and community projects. However, the number of elephants being poached each year is still high at an estimated 30,000 and Rhinos in, especially in Asia, still remain in grave danger. This is because too many people are flouting the laws, looking to gain from this lucrative commodity whatever the cost. On the black market there is still a high demand and price for ivory trade, particularly in China and a network of illegal poachers willing to take the risks to meet the demand.


Slaughtered Elephant

The modern poaching outfit

In the early days of elephant and rhino poaching before it was made illegal, it was a fairly rudimentary practice. However, in many African and Asian countries nowadays, the poaching operations have evolved to bypass the laws and continue the supply of illegal ‘blood ivory’.

Sophisticated criminal gangs are now the masterminds behind illegal poaching, with enough capital and connections to invest in high-tech equipment such as night-vision equipment, rocket-launchers, helicopters, silencer guns and tranquiliser to poach at night and avoid being caught by law enforcement officials. They are then able to sell this highly sought-after commodity on the global black market with little regard for the devastation they are causing, only thinking about the bottom line.


Some Burial

Why we need to act

To many of us the issue of ivory trade may seem like a far away problem, but it shouldn’t be. Although you may not feel like you’re directly affected by ivory poaching, you are as if these species were to become extinct it would be a tragedy on so many levels.

Firstly, to not have these fascinating and iconic animals living in the wild would make the world a much sadder place, but more significantly these large mammals like elephants and rhinos play a huge ecological role; helping to regenerate rainforests in Africa and Asia. They do this by eating and passing seeds through their manure, which acts like fertiliser to help new trees grow and given their epic migration trails this encourages new tree growth far and wide. It’s this new growth that’s vital to the eco system, helping to tackle some of the issues we’re facing with climate change, as they absorb CO2 in the atmosphere and transform it into oxygen.

The issue of ivory trade isn’t going away and shouldn’t be ignore, which is why through my work I hope to raise awareness of the harmful and tragic effect it is having on our beloved wild animals, as well as what it could mean for the future of our planet

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