The Bloody Ivory Business

February 8, 2014

Following recent ivory crushes by the governments of France, China, and the U.S., the editorial board of the New York Times evaluates an initiative by New York State legislators to prohibit all ivory sales in the state, including those that are now technically legal.

The slaughter of the African elephant continues. Nearly 100 of these majestic animals are sacrificed every day for ivory trinkets —bracelets, statuettes and other baubles sold illegally around the world. Wildlife experts estimate the remaining African elephant population at 350,000 to 500,000, with poachers targeting 30,000 to 35,000 a year. Elizabeth Bennett of the Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that one subspecies, the African forest elephant, could become extinct in the next decade.

A few governments have begun destroying illegal ivory as a warning to poachers and traffickers. The United States crushed six tons of illegal tusks, jewelry and other items in November. France pulverized three tons of illegal ivory this week. Even China, the main destination for illicit ivory, which sells for as much as $1,000 a pound on the streets of Beijing, has begun to act, destroying six tons last month.

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