A Mammoth Problem


The Hindu

Date Published

In a major move towards the conservation of elephants, world
governments, voted on closing domestic ivory markets on the final day
of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World
Conservation Congress held at Honolulu, Hawaii.

This bears significance because, nations such as the United States and
China, which are among the biggest consumers of ivory, also agreed to
abide by.

Though the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the international commercial trade
in African elephant ivory in 1989, poaching of elephants continue to
be a big issue in Africa and elsewhere.

A recent comprehensive survey of African elephants found that their
population has decreased by nearly a third between 2007 and 2014.
Thousands of African elephants are killed every year for the ivory
trade annually, which is worth billion dollars.

Apart from African and Asian elephants, ivory trade involves the
killing of walrus, narwhal, hippopotamus, sperm whale, killer whale,
and mammoth.

Uses of ivory

Ivory is obtained from the tusks and teeth of animals. Irrespective of
whether it is a teeth or tusk, the chemical structure is the same.
Ivory trade had been in practice since the 14th century BC. They
continue to be used to make high value works of art, boxes for costly
objects and to make the eyes of statues.

With increasing pressure against poaching of Asian and African
elephants and other animals, the poachers have turned to the woolly
mammoth for their tusks. Ivory poachers go digging in the Siberian
regions, where up to 150 million mammoths are believed to lie beneath.
Their tusks fetch more them than $60,000.