Time and again, elephants have proven that they are worth more than just their tusks. Back in August, they rescued hundreds of tourists from a flood in Nepal. And while some, like war veteran Col. Faye Cuevas, are doing their best to protect them, it seems the efforts are not enough. Last year, the U.K. has taken a favorable — albeit small — step towards banning almost all sales and exports of ivory products.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a consultation to end the trade in ivory of all ages — previous attempts at a ban would have excluded antique ivory produced before 1947.
The government says there will be some exemptions, for musical instruments and items of cultural importance.
A lack of clear restrictions is corroborating the fears of environmentalist groups, who are unsatisfied by the ban. They argue that the UK still leads in exporting legal pre-1947 ivory antiques even in the past few years, and though the transactions are technically not punishable by law, the high amount of sales stimulates demand and encourages poaching in Africa.
Nonetheless, pressures from conservationists and Prince William himself — a long-time campaigner against the trade — are pushing the government to impose a total ban. If I were being encouraged by English royalty to head towards a certain direction, I’d probably start walking.
At a wildlife conference in Vietnam, [Prince William] said: “Ivory is not something to be desired and when removed from an elephant it is not beautiful.
“So, the question is: why are we still trading it? We need governments to send a clear signal that trading in ivory is abhorrent.”
Well said, Prince William. I toot my horn (or tusk?) in your favor. While waiting for further updates this 2018 from the government of the UK, perhaps we could share a toast to the greatness of elephants.
Following India’s campaign against the use of wild animals in circus shows, China has caved to international pressures. In a giant leap forward, the mass ivory consumer is finally placing a near-total ban on the material. Things will definitely be looking up for 30,000 African elephants slaughtered by poachers each year.
China and the U.S. both agreed to “near-complete” ivory bans, which prohibit the buying and selling of all but a limited number of antiques and a few other items.
Ivory is in demand for intricate carvings, trinkets, chopsticks, and other items.
With no proven clinical use, ivory used as medication is purely based on superstition. Despite previous international bans, China has consistently managed to quietly condone black market trade — until now.
“The Chinese government’s ban on its domestic ivory trade sends a message to the general public in China that the life of elephants is more important than the ivory carving culture,” said Gao Yufang, a Ph.D. student in conservation biology.
With no means to curve laws, China is finally bound to the positively inescapable ban. There is no guarantee to a drop in poaching, but when society gets it, it seems everything falls naturally into place.
Some war veterans choose to retire comfortably, whether in the city or the countryside. However, this is not the case for one special air force officer. Lt. Col. Faye Cuevas, who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa has returned to her latter post to assist in the conservation of African elephants.
The number of Africa’s savannah elephants had dropped to about 350,000 by 2014 because of poaching, according to a recent study.
“At the current rate of elephant decline, my 6-year-old daughter won’t have an opportunity to see an elephant in the wild before she’s old enough to vote,”
“Which just is unacceptable to me, because if that is the case then we have nothing to blame that on but human apathy and greed.”
Elephant ivory, which has virtually no medicinal value, is popularly sold in China as a means of alternative healing.
Together with the U.S.-based International Fund for Animal Welfare, Cuevas introduced a smartphone-based software app (tenBoma) that allows rangers and field investigators to enter and share information immediately.
tenBoma has revolutionized wildlife security, among other conservation strategies. Poaching is a worldwide battle that has not yet been won–but with the help of people like Cuevas, victory is closer than ever.