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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Hoff

Ivory and dead elephants

May 2, 2016

African elephants

Props to Kenya for having the courage and foresight to burn 105 tons of elephant ivory and 1.35 tons of rhino horn on April 30, 2016.

To anyone who has difficulty understanding this: yes, that piece of carved ivory is lovely; yes, the artistry is exquisite; but no piece of bric-a-brac, however artistic, is worth the life of an elephant.

You may think an ivory statuette is antique: it’s probably not. You may think the certification of legality is genuine: it’s probably not. Despite decades of efforts to stop the illegal ivory trade, it is still responsible for poaching 30,000 elephants a year. And yes, the United States is one of the biggest markets for ivory, second only to China.

Ivory is not beautiful — each piece represents a dead elephant. Ivory is worthless — elephants are precious. Crush it, burn it — but don’t buy it.

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