Not long ago, I saw a video of an African country burning a huge pile of elephant ivory. All I could think of as I watched the flames was, “What an ignorant waste of a beautiful resource!” No doubt they were proud of themselves for catching the poachers, and they should have been. But to deliberately waste such a valuable resource is unconscionable. I’m sure that they never stopped to realize how self-defeating their ivory arson really was.
There will always be a demand for elephant ivory, legal or not. Not surprisingly, the illegal ivory trade works like every other business—the value of the product is determined by supply and demand. By destroying all the ivory belonging to the poachers who’d been caught, they greatly increased the value of the ivory held by those who HADN’T been caught. Since the price will be driven up, those poachers will try to kill even MORE of the dwindling elephant population. The foolishness of the authorities literally guaranteed increased killing of elephants.
Think what that ivory would have brought if auctioned off by the government. Think of the many starving people of Africa who could have been fed with that money. Think of all the beautiful things that could have been made from that same ivory and the jobs those items would create in commerce. But it all went up in smoke. It was just another case of some of God’s beautiful art material being destroyed by ignorant men.
I’m not for the slaughter of elephants. I’m not even sure they should be hunted normally anymore, even where legal. However, there will always be rogue elephants that will HAVE to be destroyed. There will always be unhealthy animals that need culled from the herd and old animals that are nearing death. If killed legally, the meat from those animals would feed many villagers, and the ivory could be sold to help the native tribes. AND they could get money from those willing to come and shoot the animals, think of them what you will.
Until the powers-that-be understand that banning the use of ivory only makes it more valuable, we are doomed to watch the elephant herds of Africa slide closer and closer to oblivion. © 2016