Ivory Belongs to Elephants
Happy World Elephant Day!
August 12th is an annual event dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants. I felt this the perfect time to post about a campaign I have become passionate about “Ivory Belongs to Elephants”.
Not many people know much about the African elephant. Most people have never seen these beautiful creatures, most people may live halfway around the world from them, and have only ever seen them on TV or at the zoo. Yes, most of us have heard of that poaching is a problem but why is it that UK, alongside USA and China, still have large markets for poached and smuggled ivory? Elephants are an attractive target to poachers, as their Ivory tusks are valued for use in carving, jewellery, and as a traditional Chinese medicine used to purge toxins from the body and to improve one’s complexion.
It saddens me to know that, one African elephant dies every 15 minutes at the hands of ivory poachers.
With these rates of elephant poaching increasing, the wild population of African elephants outside of certain fiercely protected reserves could vanish completely within the next 10 years.
Elephants are leaders and protectors of other animals, without the lions, zebras, rhinos and even hyenas become unsafe. Poaching in Kenya represents a vast scale of destruction as it targets elephants and rhinos which are the most important animals classified under the “Big 5” that are the crust of tourism in Kenya.
Consumer countries are taking measures, just April this year the UK declared a new ban on ivory sales, allowing for only narrow expectations, and violators to face up to 5 years in jail or an unlimited fine. China shut down its legal ivory market on December 31, 2017 and Hong Kong announced an end to its market in 2021. However, 70% of illegal ivory trade still ends up in China, and even with the ban on ivory the black markets remain. Many countries are still encouraging the ivory trade, such as Donald Trump’s recent reversal of the US ban on ivory imports.
Despite the ban in many countries, poaching is only getting worse. Appropriately 36,00 elephants are killed each year for their ivory.
What is ivory?
Why do elephants have them?
The long off-white tusks on either side of elephant’s trunks are ivory. The ivory is both beautiful and unique on the animal and essential to the species’ survival. The ivory tusks are massive teeth that project well beyond the mouths of elephants. Like our own teeth, these tusks are deeply rooted. Elephant tusks evolve from teeth, giving the species an evolutionary advantage. The tusks serve a variety of purposes: digging, lifting objects, gathering food, and defence. The tusks also protect the trunk. Both male and female African elephants have tusks, while only male Asian elephants, and only a certain percentage of males today have tusks.
What can you do to help?
Be a conscientious consumer
The sale of legal ivory is often a cover for the sale of illegal ivory. Choose to boycott all ivory products to help reduce the demand.
Support Defenders’ word
Make a donation to wildlife organisations or adopt an elephant today. With donations and adoptions, organisations such as David Shepherd and WWF help to save and care for elephants.
Have you ever wanted to see an elephant in the wild? If you choose to travel, be sure to choose an eco-tourism company that supports elephant conservation efforts. When shopping for souvenirs, never buy ivory, but buy other items that are made in the communities you visit. Supporting locally-owned and operated businesses helps provide sustainable livelihoods for people on the ground in elephant environments, and a great alternative to the temptation of making money through poaching.
Be an Advocate for the elephants
Elephants cannot speak so we need to be the voice for them. This is something that I learnt from Jim Nyamu.
Scientist and Elephant Neighbors Center (http://elephantcenter.org/) Executive Director and Founder, Jim Nyamu, has been fighting to conserve elephants for decades. Jim says he won’t stop walking until the world realizes that tusks belong to elephants and horns belong to rhinos. Jim and his team have been walking to raise awareness of the plight of the African Elephant since 2013, completing over 12,000kms to date across Africa, The United States and, UK. Jim makes stops on his walks to connect with residents and leaders of cities and towns to inform of the campaign and request they take a stand against the ivory trade.
I met Jim when he came to the UK for The Great London to Bristol Ivory Belongs to Elephant Walk. I was so inspired that he was walking 210 miles in England in the cold December weather to raise awareness. Jim has opened my eyes on the need to campaign for conversation. He is determined, and even on the worst days of the walk, when there was lots of snow, they continued, as even elephants keep walking in the harshest conditions.
After spending three days with Jim Nyamu and the Elephant crew I feel so inspired to be a voice for the elephants. I was so happy to be at the start of the walk, and glad there was lots of support for him. I walked a few miles to start them off and I felt my hands were so cold only walking a little time. The team were so inspirational and have accomplished great things on these walks.
Jim is currently on a walk from Nairobi, Kenya to Johannesburg, South Africa! Walking through Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. This East to South Africa Ivory Belongs to Elephants walk will take 160 days and cover 4,200kms!
Please check out more information on the East-South Africa Walk, and how to support via this link: http://elephantcenter.org/cause/do-you-want-to-support-east-africa-walk/
Spread the world
Share this post on social media. Tell your friends and family about the ivory trade and its impact on elephants in the wild.
Ivory is neither mine nor yours, Ivory belongs to the Elephants.
Check out this video from Kenya’s Elephant Man on why Elephants matter