Products made of Ivory – Why do people buy them?

African elephants 45Some facts you need to know about Ivory:

  • Both tusks and teeth of animals maybe referred to as ivory. Elephant tusks are the main source of ivory but parts from other animals like hippo, whales, walrus, etc. may also be used at times.
  • Before plastics were invented, ivory was used to make billiards balls, piano keys and a whole range of ornamental items.
  • Objects made of ivory have religious importance in certain countries and that is one of the main factors for the increase in its demand.
  • Ivory can be taken from dead elephants but more often than not, elephants in Africa and Asia are killed in hundred’s for their tusks.
  • Ivory is sold (mostly illegally) to countries like China, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.
  • In 2011 alone, 34.7 tonnes of illegal ivory was seized globally. That equals 31,500 dead elephants.
  • Ivory has been used by people to make various (mostly decorative/religious) objects for centuries. Many Syrian and North African elephant species were driven to extinction (even in the early days) due to illegal ivory poaching.
  • In just ten years (during the 1980′s) African elephant population were halved (due to poaching) and a lot of countries banned inter-country ivory trading. However, illegal ivory smuggling network is quite active.
  • eBay banned sales of ivory based products in 2008. The Govt. of US and various other countries have banned ivory imports.

Like how we conveniently blame the politicians for anything wrong happening in the country, it is equally simple/easy to blame the poachers for killing of the elephants for their tusks.  While I agree that what they are doing is dastardly, think for a second – Why would the poachers kill elephants if there was no demand for ivory? Why would elephants be hunted if we stop buying anything made of ivory?

Even before researching for this article, I was very much aware that elephants are being hunted in large numbers across Asia and Africa for their tusks. So, the excuse that ‘I was so ignorant about all this and I thought that ivory based objects are made only out of tusks from dead elephants’ is not very convincing.

Even after knowing that buying ivory directly encourages killing of elephants, the filthy rich (filthy and rich) people continue to buy ivory products particularly in China, Japan and Asia-Pacific. I am not sure if Indians also fancy ornaments made of ivory/ivory-carved objects, but in my circle I don’t find anyone that inhumane.

Mostly, people make only decorative items using ivory. None of them are actually useful for anything. I can understand the craze for gold, silver, platinum and other metals for making decorative items. At least, animals are not killed for making them. But going, ‘Oh so cute’ on ivory? I think only sadists can do that. For people who consider these objects as a ‘status-symbol’, it only shows that you are clueless about where to spend your money.

Japan is a country that I respect a lot. To get to know that ivory trade flourishes in Japan, hurts me. Have you ever seen objects made of white marble/white porcelain? Didn’t you notice that these objects can be more beautiful than anything made of ivory? The difference is, elephants can peacefully live in jungles if you buy such items instead of buying ivory.

Destination Infinity

Photo: Copyright free image. Source for info: Wikipedia article.

18 thoughts on “Products made of Ivory – Why do people buy them?

  1. Ivory, Diamond,… our greed to possess can be so destructive. How can people wear diamond, after knowing how people are exploited ? The list can go on.

    1. Exploitation happens at many levels. If we take that as a scale, I guess we can’t buy anything! But killing a creature, that too for making decorative items doesn’t exactly appeal to me.

      Destination Infinity

    1. I found out that Ivory coast does get its name because of ivory trade in earlier centuries. Time for that country to change its name.

      Destination Infinity

    1. Yes. Ivory products should be officially banned. At least, people should refrain from showing any interest towards ivory-based products.

      Destination Infinity

  2. I think I have seen ivory and ivory inlaid articles in VTI. Otherwise I don’t know much about this. No, I know that elephants are killed for their tusks. I don’t know how women wear necklaces made of ivory (I have heard about the necklaces). My son is angry because I am using leather handbags and leather chappals. He doesn’t use anything in leather. But I argue that animals are not killed for this purpose, but inside my mind I feel bad nowadays. Even silk sarees. Hmmm…our govt. too should ban sales of ivory products but the poachers are greedy and sell them elsewhere. Globalisation in this matter is not good.

    Very good post and I am disturbed now and you post the picture of mother and daughter elephants. Did you see this link of mine which I posted a few weeks back?
    If people read this post after viewing this link, it will make them sadder http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19998236

    1. I remember watching that movie on elephant rescue. Glad that something good is also happening somewhere! I am not aware of what exactly happens in the case of leather, maybe I need to do some research on it to know more.

      I read an article saying that the ivory from elephants killed in India mostly go to other countries. In that context, I do agree with you that globalisation has its disadvantages.

      Destination Infinity

  3. I don’t remember seeing a thing make of ivory. But u r post is an eye opener on ivory and alike u I also know that elephants are killed for tusker. Like u said, things made of marble would be more shiny and showy than ivory.

    Thanks for sharing those facts!

    1. It’s good that we don’t see ivory-based products in India normally. Exactly, when there are better alternatives at a lower price, why stick on to ivory?

      Destination Infinity

  4. Though I don’t see such products normally but yes if we stop buying them, the trade will not flourish. Ban is also another important way to curb the trade.

    Very informative post.

    1. Ban can help to a certain extent, but if people don’t buy them the ivory trade will have to stop.

      Destination Infinity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>