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"Anyone who buys ivory has killed an elephant and ... caused immense sorrow and suffering to all the relatives and their friends. Elephants have very, very big hearts and they are highly emotional animals." Daphne Sheldrick 1999

Think twice about buying ivory--you risk their seizure by government inspectors, may face a substantial fine, and cause the mutilation and murder of countless people and elephants!

Ivory from elephant tusks is traditionally carved into products such as jewellery, figurines, and piano keys. Imports of ivory, including many antiques, from both Asian and African elephants are now generally prohibited. Purchase of ivory may provide an incentive to poachers and illegal traders and threaten the survival of the African elephant. Imports of ivory and scrimshaws from whales, walruses, and narwhales are also prohibited.

Because this is such a critical time for elephants, we have created the Elephant CITES crisis centre to focus on the threat of a further relaxation of the Ivory ban coming up in April, 2000. Please go there and help send a few letters to try and persuade our countries that we do care about the elephants and their survival (its really easy!).

"Curiously symbolizing profligate luxury as well as purity, ivory has for uncounted millennia been procured from vast distances and masterfully carved into objects of rare beauty.  Since elephant tusks are its chief source, and since Man is the elephant's only serious predator, ivory is at the root of the African elephant's threatened extinction..." (Robert McCormick Adams, "Smithosian Horizons," Smithsonian 19(12):14, 1989)

 Undoubtedly the most horrifying future that many Asian and African elephants face today is the pursuit of their ivory.  Before the twentieth century, elephants were not pursued as ruthlessly and cold-heartedly as they are today. Although there was interest in the ivory trade, it was not until the growing European and international markets in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that elephants were to face their most grim future.

The process involved in procuring ivory is indeed a horrific process.  The elephant must be killed before the ivory can be procured.  At one time the elephant was killed with a poison dart.  This meant a slow and painful death for the elephant, as well as the arduous task of following the elephant until it keeled over in death.  More often than not, hunters and poachers today use guns to murder the elephants.  Regardless of the mode in which the elephants are killed, the process of extracting the ivory is all the same.  In order to obtain all the ivory from the elephant, the hunter and poacher must cut into the head; this is garnered with knowledge that approximately 25% of the ivory is contained in the head.  What is then left on the fields of the African or Asian plains is the corpse of a tuskless elephant with a mutilated face and head.

In the past there was a great scholarly and cultural interest in acquiring ivory. However, with this growing interest also came the decimation of the vibrant elephant population. In order to protect the elephant, national parks and reserves have been established to reduce the threat from hunters and poachers. The African Elephant Conservation Act of 1989 was also enforced to ensure the conservation and protection of the African elephant. It was an important piece of legislation, even if there was no cessation of ivory poaching and trading. Government-condoned public burning of ivory in Kenya has become a symbolic display that the ivory market will not be condoned.

Unfortunately, the elephant is not yet freed from the greed of human desire for ivory. The three main uses for elephants in the world is for signature seals, jewellery, and tourist trinkets. Remember the horrible end many people and elephants have come to because of this greed and if you see something shiny and white in the store don't buy it! Also, if someone abroad tells you its legal, in most cases it is not! Please spare the elephants and shun ivory...


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