ElephantVoices is launching a campaign against the ivory trade, which is causing the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants every year. Elephant expert and Co-Founder of ElephantVoices, Dr. Joyce Poole, observes, "It is with a sense of déjà vu and deep sorrow, though little surprise, that following the torpedoing of the 1989 ban by the 'one-off' sales of ivory stockpiles, we find ourselves living through, and battling against, another elephant massacre." Two weeks before the delegates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meet in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss the fate of elephants once more, ElephantVoices reminds the world that each new tusk on the market means more death, trauma and destruction.
"We are asking people to help us reach out to potential buyers of ivory who don't realize that elephants are dying in record-high numbers for trinkets and decorations. The only way to stop this wanton slaughter of elephants is to choke demand for ivory and stop the trade," states Joyce Poole.
ElephantVoices is basing its campaign on two powerful pieces of graphic art by New York artist, Asher Jay. The artworks, with the slogans, EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; DON'T BUY IVORY and EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; STOP THE TRADE, target potential buyers and decision-makers, and are also specifically directed toward a Chinese audience. "ElephantVoices is doing something unique by making the graphic art available online in several versions, so they can be shared on social networks and be used for T-shirts, bumper-stickers, posters and banners", says Executive Director, Petter Granli.
"We urge people to share these messages far and wide, making them go viral. The poaching is endangering elephants, jeopardizing biodiversity, and threatening tourism, people's livelihoods and stability in elephant range states. The writing is on the wall for elephants and we must act now", says Joyce Poole.
Yellow Stars Shed Light
There are too many people buying ivory in too many countries. The current demand for elephant tusks is unsustainable and is swiftly mining Africa's elephants. The largest demand is in China and, hence, the Chinese government and her people have a special responsibility for taking a lead to end the decimation of elephants. China was permitted to buy a restricted amount of ivory from stockpiles, a decision by the international community that has caused immense harm to elephants. Ninety percent of the ivory available in China is from slaughtered elephants, illegally sourced, traded and sold. Chinese buyers deserve to know that tens of thousands of elephants are being killed to supply them with ivory. Every tusk costs a life.
China has the ability to raise public awareness and to enforce their strict laws to quickly strangle the trading, buying and poaching. China can stop her countrymen causing the destruction of Africa's heritage and biodiversity, while concurrently protecting her enormous investments on the African continent. We urge China to take action now to end any trade in ivory - we cannot afford to lose Africa's keystone species. 中国 Zhōngguó means China. Star power is needed to save Africa's elephants from extermination.
An elephant's 'ivory' tusks are enervated teeth composed of dentine that grow throughout life, adding two centimeters each year. They are not shed like antlers, they do not drop out and they just cannot be removed from living elephants. To obtain them you must hack them out with an axe. The tusks of male elephants are much larger than those of females. Poachers target elephants with the largest tusks, killing the mature, breeding males first. When they are dead and gone, poachers set their sights on younger males.
Elephant societies today resemble human communities after a prolonged war - most of the elephant patriarchs, the big tuskers, are gone. There are no role models for the elephant sons. As the number of adult males available to kill declines, poachers turn to the older females - the leaders of elephant society. They kill the family elders first, taking out the matriarchs, one by one. As the price of ivory increases with rising demand, the poachers slaughter the elephant mothers and daughters, causing the disintegration of entire families. An elephant's child, like a human child, cannot survive without the loving care of its mother. Africa's elephant orphans are succumbing in droves to starvation, grief and death. Ivory traders and buyers are wrecking havoc on Africa's elephant families. The world has a moral obligation to protect elephant societies, surely a crucial test of human values.
ElephantVoices was founded in 2002, and works globally for the interest of elephants. Its mission is to inspire wonder in the intelligence, complexity and voices of elephants, and to secure a kinder future for them through conservation, research and the sharing of knowledge. Co-Founder Dr. Joyce Poole is a world-renown elephant expert, and has studied them and worked for their conservation and welfare since 1975.
Kenya, 18 February 2013