Ivory belongs only in elephant symphonies


Dan Ashe, Letter to Editor, Washington Post

Date Published

The Jan. 7 letter “When traveling with musical instruments gets complicated” and the Jan. 3 Arts&Style article “Entangled in ivory” created the false impression that requirements about traveling with material from endangered species are new or apply only to instruments. Transporting musical instruments and other objects containing materials from endangered species has been regulated internationally since 1975.

Growing awareness about devastating poaching and trafficking of elephants, rhinoceroses and other species has prompted many nations, including ours, to strengthen efforts to interdict illegal products. However, we’ve worked to minimize impacts on musicians by developing “passports” for instruments, enabling them to share their music with the world without having to obtain new permits every time they travel.

But make no mistake: Instruments containing ivory and performers who use them are part of the problem. When we glorify ivory as something that symbolizes affluence, we are contributing to the ongoing industrial slaughter of elephants. Ivory belongs on living elephants, and it should only accompany their symphony of rumbles and trumpets.

Dan Ashe, Washington
The writer is director of the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.