On October 14, I wrote a post, Stop Elephant Slaughter- Take a Stand, in response to a plea made by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to advertise a campaign aimed at exposing the dangers of illegal ivory trade. One could conclude that this effort will lead to salvation for countless herds of elephants. No illegal ivory trade… no more demand… no more senseless killing.
BUT- the key word is illegal ivory trade. Solving the problem of illegal ivory trade does not end the threat of elephant population declines due to over hunting. The second important question is what to do about trade in legal ivory. “Ivory in the U.S. is largely unmonitored, and the laws regulating it are antiquated, confusing, and shot through with loopholes. In addition, the agencies tasked with enforcing these laws are underfunded and chronically short-staffed.” (environment360, 02-13-14)
Ivory trade in the United States is a problem that must also be remedied. Some experts estimate that ivory trade in the U.S. trails only the largest Asian markets. African ivory imported prior to 1989 and Asian ivory removed from the wild before 1976 are legal, as are articles worked in ivory as antique items that are older than 100 years. These specs for ivory that is deemed “legal” provide loopholes for illegal ivory to be marketed as legal. Lack of uniform certification procedures/documentation and ample law-enforcement resources make policing the U.S. ivory trade very difficult… at best. Couple with this, a resistance by Congress to pass legislation to limit the number of elephant trophies imported as sport-hunted and the fate of elephants still looks bleak… even if all illegal ivory trade is ceased.
The case for legal ivory trade and the counterpoint case against ivory trade pose strong arguments each way. If you have the time, skim through each argument. Then share your reaction in the following poll: