Good News for Elephants

(Photo: Alanna Shingler)

               As targets for poaching, logging, tourism, and more, elephants endure mistreatment and death excessively around the world. China, the world’s biggest market for elephant tusks, officially banned the trading of ivory in an attempt to save elephants who fall victim to poachers at the end of 2016. Many were skeptical that China’s efforts would fail to actually benefit the elephants, but the fact that the market for ivory has sunk suggests that the ban has made a positive impact. By the end of 2017, China plans to shut down all of its ivory factories and close all ivory retail outlets.

               The numbers are coming from report conducted by a well-respected Kenyan wildlife group and indicate that the price of ivory has dropped by about 50 percent in the last three years. At its peak, an elephant tusk could be worth over more than $100,000, but last month, it dropped to only $730 per kilogram. Because ivory is a valued status symbol in China, it seems unlikely that black market poaching will cease completely. Ivory is more of a want than a need for China’s middle class who treasure items such as bracelets, combs, and statues made at the cost of elephant’s lives.

               Regardless, leader of Save the Elephants, Iain Douglas-Hamilton feels optimistic about the numbers and explains, “We must give credit to China for having done the right thing. There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory, but there is now greater hope for the species.”

Alanna Shingler Staff Reporter