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Religious fervor drives elephant slaughter
mongabay.com
September 14, 2012


Legal ivory trade failing to protect elephants

Sumatran elephants

The legal ivory trade is failing to protect elephants which are being slaughtered en mass across the African continent to meet demand for religious trinkets, argues a new investigative report published in National Geographic by Bryan Christy.

The report, researched and written over a three year period, looked at supply and demand the elephant ivory market. It found that substantial quantities of ivory is being used to make religious trinkets including "ivory baby Jesuses and saints for Catholics in the Philippines, Islamic prayer beads for Muslims and Coptic crosses for Christians in Egypt, amulets and carvings for Buddhists in Thailand, and in China—the world's biggest ivory-consumer country—elaborate Buddhist and Taoist carvings for investors," according to a post on National Geographic News.

Ivory is coming primarily from the black market. The cost for elephants is high: a conservative estimate puts the slaughter at 25,000 elephants in 2011 alone.

The article argues that decisions made by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the organization that sets policies to regulate trade in wildlife products, have played a critical role in facilitating elephant ivory trafficking. Specifically, one-off ivory sales sanctioned by CITES have buoyed demand for ivory products and confused the marketplace into the legality of elephant ivory.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a group that campaigns against the elephant ivory trade, says Blood Ivory reveals the "enormity and extent of the illegal international trade in ivory" and shows that "the CITES ivory-trading mechanism is profoundly flawed, empirically unsupportable and has itself become a major driver of poaching and the illegal international trade in ivory." The group is calling for a re-evaluation of CITES' policies.











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