Tag Archives: Ivory Crush

Help Save Elephants

Do you own ivory? Or know someone who does?

Robbie Marsland, the UK director of the IFAW, said:

“Many people have unwanted ivory trinkets and by donating them for destruction, they can be sure this ivory will not end up on the market again or have a commercial value.”

February 12-13, governments from around the world are gathering in London to discuss how to end illegal wildlife trade. The IFAW is urging people in the UK to hand in unwanted ivory ahead of the summit.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has already collected some 50kg of ivory, donated in response to this appeal, to be crushed in central London next month. 

“At this key time when all eyes will be on London, the IFAW’s ivory surrender and crush will also help focus attention on the cruel ivory trade. Legal ivory trade often provides a smokescreen for more illegal killing of elephants and by donating unwanted ivory people will be making a positive contribution to elephant protection.”

Check out this LETTER HERE and consider copying/pasting/personalizing your own to send to your family and friends.




Please send a note like this to the IFAW headquarters ([email protected]) and US Fish and Game (click HERE for the online contact form)

To Whom it May Concern:

IFAW in London is asking for anyone to turn in their ivory to be crushed this February (http://elephantopia.org/2014/01/29/help-save-elephants/). Is there any movement like this in the U.S.? How can we help get one started?
Thank you,
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The End of the First Month

It’s hard to believe we’re already coming to the end of January. A lot has happened for elephants this year.


On January 6, 2013, China destroyed 6 tons of ivory. This was the first time China — which according to CNN reports, accounts for 70% of global demand for ivory — had destroyed any of its confiscated ivory. Jianguo He, who has worked against the ivory trade for 12 years with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said witnessing the event was bittersweet:

“When you see six tonnes of ivory, you can’t help but think ‘how many elephants was that? What did those elephants die for? Ivory is not a necessity, it is simply a luxury item that people don’t need. Every ivory product means an elephant was killed. That means a loss of life and a loss of biodiversity. This is not art any more. People are exploiting nature for all it can give.”*

The sad truth is, this amount that was destroyed represents only a fraction of the amount housed in China. Some estimate*  there is closer to 45 tons of ivory stored in China!  Although this was a great first step, advocates pushed for China to do more. And on January 23, Hong Kong announced the plan to destroy 28 tons of ivory  in three batches beginning July 2014. That represents the tusks of about 11,000 elephants. The country plans to keep 1 ton of ivory for “educational and scientific purposes.”

China, which accounts for 70% of the illegal ivory trade, still has a long way to go. But we are pleased to see how 2014 is starting out - and are hopeful that maybe this year will be the year of the elephant!

A shipment of more than 700 ivory tusks worth over $1 million was seized by customs officials in Hong Kong in early January 2013. PHOTOGRAPH BY BOBBY YIP, REUTERS

A shipment of more than 700 ivory tusks worth over $1 million was seized by customs officials in Hong Kong in early January 2013.


The fight for elephants began in November of 2012 when then Secretary of State raised awareness about the elephant crisis and the need to stop the slaughter of Africa’s elephants. President Obama gave an executive order in July 2013 earmarking $10 million for training and technical assistance in Africa to combat wildlife trafficking. He also created the White House Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking. Then in the fall of 2013, 18 global conservation groups announced a 3-year, $80 million Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand for ivory. They were joined by 7 Africa heads of state calling on consumer and transit countries to ban the sale of ivory. November 2013 the US crushed 6 tons of ivory and put $45 million in new funding to combat wildlife trafficking in the fiscal year 2014 budget along with a bill that would place a moratorium on all domestic ivory sales. On January 16, NY Assembly Members met to discuss this bill to ban the ivory trade here in the US. Many of you wrote letters and received responses like this. At the hearing this month, Assemblyman Sweeney was disturbed to hear that “New York has become one of the main points of entry for the illegal ivory trade,” and for that reason he wants to see a policy change on the local level. One outcome of the hearing may eventually be a push for a statewide ban on ivory sales. WCS will be supporting such action through its newly launched 96 Elephants campaign.*

It’s taken a few years, but we are excited to see the world’s second largest consumer in ivory taking large strides to combat the illegal ivory trade. We look forward to 2014 with hope that our leaders will vote YES to ban the sale of ivory. If you haven’t already, please send a note to your local government officials. CLICK HERE for a template (copy/paste and email to your local government officials) or if you live in Texas, sign THIS PETITION. 


WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs John Calvelli joins WCS VP for Species Conservation Elizabeth Bennett, WCS President & CEO Cristian Samper and Jane Goodall at the Clinton Global Initiative’s announcement of a 3-year, $80-million Commitment to Action to protect African elephants. Photo © Julie Larsen Maher/WCS.


Great strides have been taken in Kenya to fight back against poachers seeking to destroy the wildlife heritage of the nation as well as create political & social unrest. Last fall 2013, terrorist Al Shabaab attacked a mall in Nairobi. Later it was found at least 40% of the terrorist group funding came from the illegal ivory trade on the black market. Hand Off Our Elephants campaign backed by First Lady Kenyatta began an initiative to strengthen anti-poaching laws. We are pleased to hear that in January of 2014, a bill was signed that increased fines and added possibility of life sentences in jail. And it’s already bearing fruit: earlier this week, Tang Yong Jian, a Chinese national, who was allegedly attempting to smuggle 3.2 kilograms of raw ivory out of Kenya to China, was caught. He faces a $230,000 fine OR 7 years in prison if he doesn’t pay. Prior to the new law (Wildlife Act of 2013), Tang Yong Jian would have been free to go after facing less than a $1000 fine, a punishment that provided little deterrent to smugglers because ivory fetches around $2400 per kilogram in China.

Next door to Kenya, Tanzania is loosing the most elephants per year in all of Africa. The Selous, a World Heritage Site, is now known as “Africa’s Killing Fields.”  The Mikumi-Selous ecosystems have just 13,084 elephants left (compared to 39,000 in 2009), Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystems have just 29,090 elephants left, and the Kilombero Game Controlled Area have no elephants left. Tanzania also houses the worlds largest storehouse of confiscated ivory. Currently the country is asking CITES for an allowance for a one-off legal sale. But ivory cannot fund conservation. Take a moment to CLICK HERE and contact Mr. Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, and ask him to destroy Tanzania’s ivory. In doing so, this would send a clear and critical message to the world, much like the ivory burn in Kenya in 1989.


Shared from IFAW: Ivory Burn in 1989 Kenya


We had our first official board meeting this month! We are busy writing our vision and mission statements as we begin the process of applying for nonprofit status. Our goal is two-fold: we want to raise awareness about the ivory trade elephant crisis through educational campaign and action events here in the States, and we want to partner with a local community in Africa to protect the elephants while supporting locals who may otherwise see the elephant as merely a pest or as white gold. Plans are underway for an educational campaign aimed at elementary students here in the US and we are having discussions are with an elephant orphanage in Africa about how Elephantopia can be a part of their mission to restore whole communities (both for elephants and the local people). With all the positive movements for elephants this January 2014, we are hopeful that this year will be a peaceful and protected year for the elephant.

Photo source unknown

Photo source unknown

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China’s Ivory Crush

Today marks a monumental day in history when China destroyed 6.2 tones of illegal ivory.

Experts believe that most illegal ivory is headed to China — with some estimating the country accounts for as much as 70 percent of global demand. China has confiscated at least 16 tonnes of ivory in the past three years, according to media reports. The remaining stockpiles have not been destroyed because they are subject to “ongoing court proceedings.” However, the total volume of ivory stockpiling in China remains unknown.

Some hopeful quotes from conservation leaders about today’s crush:

“With measures like this we can still save elephants from being driven towards extinction,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton from Save the Elephants

“China is sending a very powerful message both domestically, to the Chinese people, and internationally, that it is not prepared to tolerate the illegal trade in elephant ivory,” said CITES Secretary General John Scanlon.

“The event, the first public ivory destruction in China, was to demonstrate the country’s determination to discourage illegal ivory trade, protect wildlife and raise public awareness,” said Zhang Jianlong, deputy head of the State Forestry Administration (SFA).

We are excited to see 2014 beginning with this hopeful step in the right direction for elephants in China. However, we were disappointed to hear  the state-run China National Radio reporting that only some of the crushed ivory powder will be disposed of.  The rest will be displayed in a museum exhibit ‘preserved’ — with talk of the powder being used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.

The ivory from these elephants needs to be destroyed and discarded. Only then will China be showing it’s people that ivory is not worth anything when it’s NOT on the elephant. Ivory belongs to the elephants.

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  1. Pledge to Protect - visit the David Sheldrick site to make your new years resolution to protect elephants by fostering an orphan, spreading the word to your friends about the elephant crisis, taking part in local awareness activities and more.
  2. Rise Up For Elephants - award winning photographer Michael North is offering a limited edition DVD containing the 100 large format high-resolution photographs contained in this video for US$145 including postage. The purchase entitles you to print any and all of the 100 photographs contained on the DVD for personal use. For every DVD purchased, an orphan elephant will be adopted in your name for an orphan from the Kenya Children’s Home or for someone special or, indeed, for yourself.
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Final Update on THE CRUSH

Photographs shared from various news agencies showing the inaugural ivory crushing in the US.

“We’re trying to tell organized syndicates and cartels who are now involved in the illegal ivory trade that we’re going to do whatever we can to take the value out of ivory and do whatever we can to put them in jail,”-Edward Grace, deputy chief with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.

“With this action (the crushing of ivory), the United States is sending a simple but powerful message to the sadistic poachers who kill elephants and other animals, and to all the traffickers who transport illicit cargo and the consumers who purchase these illicit goods: “You cannot and must not mistake our seriousness.”- John Kerry, Secretary of State, USA.

Critics argue the “ivory crush”-like earlier events in Gabon, Kenya and the Philippines- will do little to stem the illegal ivory trade. Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes, a conservation economist with the Property and Environmental Research Center, warns today’s crush could have unintended consequences.

“The ill-conceived [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] gesture could create the perception that ivory is anincreasingly scarce commodity on illegal markets, leading to higher prices and further poaching,” he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disagrees.

“This ivory would never be made available to the market,” the agency said in a statement. “Its destruction has no impact on the overall supply and does not create any incentive for poaching. By demonstrating our commitment to combat poaching and illegal trade, and to arrest and prosecute people who engage in these activities, we are providing a strong disincentive to poachers and wildlife traffickers.” (Above story shared from ABCNews - click to read full details)

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Ivory Crush US Resolve

Jane Goodall and Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton share about this iconic day in history - and what is needed next.

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The Ivory Crush

TODAY is a monumental day in U.S. history: the first-ever ivory crush. The 5.4 tons of  ivory that cost the lives of the 2000+ elephants will be destroyed, sending a clear message to the world that the U.S. will not tolerate the illegal wildlife trade. Below are photographs of the event in Denver. We are thrilled to see the U.S. taking this first step. But we hope it won’t end there. It’s time to ban the sale of ivory in the U.S.


1. Tweet about it! Let the world know what’s going on - here’s a great facebook event page with pre-made tweets ready for you!

2. Global Moment of Silence - use the power of facebook to join with hundreds of others around the world as we remember the elephants who were killed by human greed.

3. Sign this petition from the Wildlife Conservation Society asking the US to ban the ivory trade.

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We leave you with this quote by Daphne Sheldrick:

“[elephants teach us to] focus on the living, rather than the dead, knowing that the dead are beyond any more suffering and pain, and that one has, at least, afforded them a comfortable end surrounded by compassion and love.”


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Extinction, Art & The Ivory Crush

The Western Black Rhino (pictured below from CNN) was last seen in 2006. This subspecies of the black rhino is native to Africa and has been declared by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature - the world’s largest conservation network) to be extinct


The black rhino species is now listed as “critically endangered” and the northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” (IUCN reports to CNN). In 1960 there were roughly 70,000 black rhinos. Today an estimated 4,000 remain.

“In the case of the Western black rhino and the Northern white rhino, the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implremented,” said Simon Stuart of the IUCN.

While we mourn for the Western Black Rhino, this tragic loss of an iconic subspecies is just a foreshadow of what is to come if nothing is done to stop the demand for illegal ivory and rhino horn. Every day, 96 elephants are slaughtered for their ivory tusks (please click to learn more & sign the Wildlife Conservation Society’s petition to have the United States declare a moratorium on ivory sales in the U.S.) At this rate, estimates are between 10-50 years until elephants are extinct in the wild.

The greatest demand for ivory and other illegal wildlife parts is led by China. Just this last week, the largest ivory seizure in Chinese history took place in Xiamen. Customs officials “smashed” a transcontinental smuggling ring responsible for illegally importing 12 tons of ivory worth 603 million yuan (HK $767 million). Two gangs were responsible for the smuggling in of well over 3,000 ivory tusks this year (that’s about 1500 elephants).  Earlier this week in Tanzania, three Chinese nationals were arrested with 797 elephant tusks. Until the demand is suppressed, the Western Black Rhino is a sad example of the future for many of Africa’s iconic species.

So how to stop demand? The combination of stricter laws against ivory trade and raising public awareness through education. With most of China’s citizens having a misunderstanding of where ivory actually comes from (because the Chinese word for elephant literally means “teeth” most people do not realize you must kill the elephant to harvest it’s “teeth”), WildAid and other organizations are working hard to change public perception and understanding of the ivory trade. Artist Jay Asher explains his passion for using art to educate,

By transforming consumers into conservationists, we can directly impact the future of Africa’s rhinos and elephants.  Through these educational public media ads (see below), the hope is for consumers to become advocates for elephants and rhinos rather than consumers of ivory and rhino horn (Learn more about the campaign HERE.)


But does education and advocacy really do anything? Will it change the future for the elephant? Or the rhino?

Nelson Mandela once said,

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world

That is why we do what we do on this blog and through Facebook/Twitter. To raise awareness. To provide ways for people to get involved and help create a better future for elephants and humans to exist TOGETHER for much more than the next 50 years. Conservation and education efforts DO work. The IUCN testifies that the southern white rhino subspecies, which at the end of the 19th century had less than 100 left in the wild, now has an estimated population of 20,000.

And while the U.S. has not placed a moratorium on ivory (YET), we are proud to see that they will be crushing their ivory stockpiles in Denver this November 14. We leave you with this inspiring video from the U.S.Fish & Wildlife Service (click to read details about the upcoming crush):

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