African elephant populations have been utterly demolished due to poaching for the elephant’s valuable ivory tusks. While seizure of illegal ivory and arresting poachers has been somewhat effective, what may truly kill this dark industry for good is the crashing price of ivory.
The cost of elephant tusks, according to the conservation group Save the Elephants, has decreased by almost two thirds in the last three years. In 2014, a kilogram of ivory could be sold on the black market for $2,100. This year, it costs only $730. Still a lot, but there’s a clear disincentive to continue the practice of poaching these animals.
There are a number of contributing factors to the decline in the cost of ivory in China. The Chinese economy has been in decline in recent months, which is the primary reason ivory’s price is crashing. With a weaker economy, fewer people can afford “luxuries” like ivory.
The public has also become more aware of the impact of poaching Africa’s elephants. Public awareness campaigns have been incredibly effective at changing consumer habits and turning the public against the practice of poaching.
“This is a critical period for elephants, with the end of the legal ivory trade in China, the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved,” says Ian Douglas-Hamilton, president of Save The Elephants.
“We must give credit to China for having done the right thing by closing the ivory trade. There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory, but there is now greater hope for the species.” he continued.
Hopefully it isn’t too late to turn back the clock and save these incredible creatures.