Elephant ivory has been traded illegally for hundreds of years, causing many restrictions and bans. It was implemented to make piano keys, billiard balls and some other decorative elements due to its unique white color; however, it was substituted by plastic in the 1980s. Illegal commerce and hunting of elephants caused a significant decline in their population. Even though the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) established a ban on ivory trade in 1989, African and Asian countries kept on poaching for ivory (Aryal et al. 2767). Later, several CITES countries also imposed such a policy. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the impact of the global ban of the ivory market on ivory production, elephant population, and government revenue and to suggest a policy of protecting elephants.
The primary rationale for imposing the international ban on ivory consumption was the presumption that the endangered elephant population would be conserved. Thus, many countries following this restriction achieved significant results. For instance, the “government of Nepal celebrated its fourth consecutive “zero poaching” year” (Aryal et al. 2768). The statement means that due to prohibiting ivory selling in Nepal, the demand has decreased, causing many artisans to stop carving ivory. The United States issued a restriction policy in 2016, and China shut down its market only at the end of 2017 and is expecting to close every workshop in the nearest future (Aryal et al. 2768). However, the Asian and African countries are still keeping on elephant poaching despite the inhibitions.
Issuing any policy will always have impacts on various aspects of the suggested guideline. Therefore, an international ban on ivory vend will primarily hit on the production itself. Imposing a ban on commerce will not merely stop merchants from producing ivory items. For instance, after closing one-third of Chinese ivory factories, the rest of them moved to different places to avoid being shut down (Aryal et al. 2769). Ivory will be still produced in the same amount by using trading loopholes on the underground black markets and will be sold online, which creates the complexity of monitoring such activity. Furthermore, the global ban will lead to an increase in the business cost, causing the prices on ivory products to rise exponentially (Bennett, 56). Consequently, the banned products will become more precious and stimulate production, trade, and even corruption on the state or international levels.
Undoubtedly, the ban imposed will influence the elephant population as its primary objective encompasses the conservation of wildlife elephants. Some researchers state that “laws and policies designed to conserve elephants have been adopted at both national and international levels” (Aryal et al. 2769). Despite that, these policies are global do not receive sufficient financial or political support. However, there is a side effect of this guideline: the regions, where elephants inhabit, are suffering from overpopulation and poor socio-economic conditions (Bennett 55). These aspects can lead to a human-elephant conflict causing competition for resources on the land” (Aryal et al. 2769). Thus, elephant species may be killed due to self-protection reasons and imposing a restriction may not act in the interests of people.
Due to the fact that ivory is contraband and its sellers are for the most part criminals, smugglers, and retail shop owners, the government does not earn anything. Nevertheless, imposing fines and taxes concerning the anti-poaching policy by any government will fill the national treasury. Moreover, the principal value of elephants comes from tourism, which can bring about sustainable income to African countries (Aryal et al. 2769). The countries interested in improving the economics, engage in ecotourism as it helps to stabilize local revenue.
The best policy to protect elephants is a total ban onto the ivory trafficking, which would narrow down it to zero and allow to incarcerate or penalize the traders or poachers. The whole anti-poaching policy should not only protect the endangered species but maintain all the ivory items until the entire population recovers (Aryal et al. 2769). What is more, the stockpiles of ivory owned by countries should be sold to invest earned money into wildlife protection and elephant’s conservation. For example, Nepal acquired around ivory and other wildlife products and burnt them down to contribute to saving elephants and suppress the trade (Aryal et al. 2768). However, there are some major drawbacks ensuant on the restriction. First and foremost, banning ivory trade may lead to the distribution of other products created from endangered species such as rhinoceros or deer (Harvey 220). Furthermore, the majority of countries cannot curb the trade as domestic sales still exist, and while the open trading is observed, no law can suppress commerce.
In conclusion, it is reasonable to state that the essential method of protecting elephants is issuing a total ban on ivory trade and imposing high taxes, fines, or other punishments. Nevertheless, a complete ban on ivory trafficking will not solve the problem totally as different rare products will appear on the market and the elephants will still be killed. Only a well-elaborated set of measures taken into international consideration will stop the ivory trade.
Aryal, Achyut, et al. “Conserving Elephants Depend on a Total Ban of Ivory Trade Globally”. Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 27, no. 10, 2018, pp. 2767–2775. Web.
Bennett, Elizabeth. “Legal ivory trade in a corrupt world and its impact on African elephant populations”. Conservation Biology, vol. 29, no.1, 2015, pp. 54–60
Harvey, Ross. “Risks and fallacies associated with promoting a legalized trade in ivory”. Politikon, vol. 43, no. 2, 2016, pp. 215–229