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African Elephants, Poachers, And The Black Market Ivory Trade

Loxodonta africana - The African Bush Elephant


Protecting Elephants Is A Globally Shared Responsibility

Now there is no real need to go on here about just what an African elephant is, the African elephant is one of the most easily identifiable creatures on planet Earth; literally everyone with the gift of sight knows what one is. Oh I suppose some persons may not realize there are elephants that are NOT African elephants, but that is another story entirely.

I'm going to take a bit of a guess here, and please forgive me should I be wrong, but I'm thinking most persons do NOT realize there are not just one, but TWO species of African elephants; the African bush elephant, and the slightly smaller African forest elephant. Both of these species of elephant are facing slaughters in the tens of thousands right now, as their ivory can be converted to cash at unprecedented rates.

Were the entire nation of the USA polled, then the percentage of persons who would like to see the African elephants extinct would be so extraordinarily small as to be a statistical irrelevancy, yet the African elephants are in real danger just the same.

What does the USA have to do with the survival of African elephants?

Well, I just used the imaginary USA poll as a bit of example. I don't think much of anyone wants to see African elephants get remotely close to extinction, but yet it is heading that way for them just the same. If you happen to buy into the notion that the USA is the most powerful nation on Earth still, then the USA should definitely lead the way towards making absolutely certain the elephants of Africa in no way become more threatened than they already are.

It's a global responsibility we have, we only have one planet.

Tons Of Elephant Ivory - Confiscated And Destroyed In Gabon.


Who Is Killing The Elephants?

Quite literally, we are. The enemy of the planet is us, and humanity alone has that little extra something that prevents it from spreading out and finding maintainable levels within its respective ecosystems. Oh don't get me wrong, there have been human communities that lived in harmony with the natural world, but we always label those people as "savages," and then we take everything they have...their land, which they were wise enough to know was never really theirs to begin with, and in some cases we just have a good old fashioned genocide against them in the name of corporations and consumerism stupidity.

The motivating factor for killing elephants is economic at its core, but one could in most cases just skip the nonsense and call greed what it is - a seeking to glorify the self to vile extremes at the expense of other humans or creatures, or both.

I'd hate for anyone reading here to think I thought them stupid - but at some point or another one must state what the major motivating factor for killing an African elephant is, and as greed has already been mentioned, something tangible has to be at its roots, and of course that thing is elephant ivory.

It is very very easy to say and believe that one must literally be IN Africa to be that horrible person killing elephants for their ivory, but this is only true in the practical sense. Yes, it isn't possible for me to sit here in Texas and kill elephants, and run a black market ivory business - but if I am the person who buys things made from ivory, I AM the person killing the elephants just the same.

Elephant Poaching In Africa - Snares

Poaching - Killing Elephants For Ivory In Africa

Ivory is beautiful, and has many uses. The global demand for ivory surpasses the respect for the lives of elephants. It is really just that simple. Let me explain some other very simple truths to you here.

1. You do not have to shoot an elephant to get its ivory...elephants die of natural causes.

2. Ivory taken from an elephant that died of natural causes is legitimate ivory, and the same quality as that someone with a very low level system of ethics and morals, motivated by illicit global demand, murdered a large, majestic, and beautiful elephant to get.

3. Humanity as a whole has an instant gratification problem - we as a species want what we want when we want it, and we want it right now. When we act out on instant gratification, we have failed to reflect on consequences. There is no one who will become more disenfranchised by the declining elephant populations than the persons who are killing them for the illicit ivory trade.

4. If point "three" above can be thought true, then it is clear those who deal in elephant poaching and illicit ivory sales are persons without the mental acuity to recognize the system they perpetuate is unsustainable, OR, and more likely, they are the lowest common denominators of humanity. The same sorts who'd accept a peace prize and perpetuate predator drones and bombs all over the world.

5. Poaching isn't just about elephants, and it isn't just elephants being murdered by poachers and illegal international black markets,Rhinoceroses are being slaughtered for their horns, and thousands of people are murdered for trying to protect elephants and rhinoceroses from poachers.

Ugandan Military - Also, Elephant Poachers

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Some Of Joseph Kony's Thugs - Also Involved In Elephant Poaching And Illicit Ivory Sales

"The Lord's Resistance Army."

"The Lord's Resistance Army."

China And Ivory - Works Of Art Elephants Are Massacred For


The Ivory Trade, Heroes And Villains

Now the BBC video up above and to the right discusses elephant poachers using snares to catch elephants with. One can assume the poachers are far away, but check their snares for elephants often enough to see if they have one they can kill to cut off the ivory for illicit ivory sales. I'm afraid the snares video failed to relay the information about the real threat to elephants from poachers, as the real threat is far more organized, far more financed, and far more deadly than a simple snare left in the wild.

As a National Geographic article explains, poachers in the nation of Chad charged into CAMEROON’S BOUBA NDJIDAH NATIONAL PARK, on horses with AK-47s and rocket propelled grenades, they slaughtered entire families of elephants, including an entire herd of fifty. Then, some of them prayed to Allah. Apparently the park had video surveillance.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, a Ugandan military helicopter was spotted in use of elephant poachers. Do you know who paid for these poacher's helicopter and weapons? Well, the United States taxpayer paid for those things.

What about "The Lord's Resistance Army?" Are they involved in poaching elephants and illegal ivory sales?

Well of course they are! We've all heard of this Joseph Kony fellow by now, and his group of highly armed and dangerous thugs, stolen children, and whoever else is involved are absolutely involved in elephant poaching and illegal ivory sales.

Isn't the Ugandan military fighting the Kony thugs, i.e., "the lord's resistance army?"

Yes indeed, the US military funds the Ugandan military, and the Ugandan military is basically at war with the Joseph Kony "lord's resistance army." As is typical, the Ugandan military (funded by US taxpayers) is BY FAR the larger terrorist organization, and it is involved in vastly worse human rights abuses than the Kony people, but both of them are into elephant poaching and illegal ivory sales.

Now, these parks in Africa have armed park rangers guarding against poachers, but they don't have modern US military weaponry, and more times than not, they are killed when they engage poachers, as the poachers have the park rangers out gunned and out numbered. Of course the federal government of the USA is ran by a bunch of idiots, and of course idiotic taxpayers allow for African poachers to slaughter not just elephants and rhinos, but African park rangers too by not bothering to care what is done with their tax dollars; but the real culprits of these killings of both man and beast are the Chinese. "White Gold", the Chinese call ivory, but it is indeed drenched in blood. By and large, the Chinese are showing little concern for Western elephant advocacy, they're more concerned with disarming American Citizens, and how to fluff their egos with their newfangled wealth and ivory, which has been a symbol of status in China for longer years than anyone can likely count.

Of course China's huge and newly wealthy middle class isn't entirely to blame here, some folks say Thailand has an even larger black market for elephant ivory than china.

An Angry African Elephant - They KNOW Who Their Oppressors Are - Humanity Is Killing The Elephants


So What Can I Do To Stop Elephant Poaching And To Save African Elephants?

Here in the United States, we do not have a legal ivory trade at all, and I must give respect here to George Herbert Walker Bush, who while president of the United States, he signed into law the African Elephant Conservation Act which completely banned the import of African elephant ivory into the USA. Let's not kid ourselves though, where there is a market, there will be buyers, and surely there is inside the states a black market for ivory.

It's obvious that you need to stop purchasing ivory for any reason - if no one is buying ivory, no one will kill elephants for their ivory. Recently the nation of Gabon sent a very clear signal to the Asian black marketers and the elephant poachers alike, they burned tons of confiscated elephant ivory, it was estimated that eight hundred and fifty elephants were killed for what they sent up in smoke. My initial reaction to hearing of what was done in Gabon was, "what a waste!" Now that I understand more of what is going on with elephant poaching, I think differently. A clear and absolute stand has to be made in regards to poaching and ivory, and that is what the nation of Gabon's action showed - zero tolerance for elephant poaching.

While poaching is the largest threat to Africa's elephants, it isn't the only threat. Elephants are losing habitat in Africa due to deforestation, and also to conflicts with farmers or ranchers. Elephants simply do not mix with human agriculture at all, an elephant recognizes no boundaries, and will absolutely trample crops. Regardless of the plight of one of the Earth's most intelligent and unique creatures, the elephants of Africa, plantations are being created to raise crops such as coffee, and also, timbers are sold from felled trees across the globe - and on land that was elephant habitat. If possible, when you purchase timber, be certain it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, as that timber will not have come from elephant habitat. When you purchase coffee, please seek out Fair Trade Coffee, as that cup o' Joe is elephant friendly.

Thanks for reading!

Happy Elephants In South Africa



Paxton8 on March 22, 2016:

I also know that elaphants kill 500 people a year it's not good they do this because they are being disturbed or stardled.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on December 21, 2013:

wolfpit411, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. When things do get better there will only be a few of us alive who lived through the terrible place we're heading.

wolfpit411 on May 20, 2013:

In my opinion the human race will eventually cause its own extinction thru its greed if the Lord does not return before it happens.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

Jaye, I have NO clue what that is about. I've only read it is true.

I've never known or known of anyone around here with a tiger...but here in my county there is a big cat preserve.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

MartieCoetser - everything humans eat was once living, so the distinction can only be made, in my opinion, concerning the morality of diet - in the realms of 1. intelligence, and 2. conservation.

Chickens, fresh water fish, potatoes...none of those things are endangered or very intelligent at all...and I certainly eat them all.

I would never eat an elephant for any reason, nor a dolphin - those things are HIGHLY intelligent creatures.

For obvious reasons...monkeys aren't on my diet.

If someone was starving and killed an elephant to eat...well, I could abide that, but killing one to make money off the an entirely different matter to me.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

whonunuwho -Thanks very much, what pisses me off the most is how ....if you don't look into a thing, you won't know anything about it.

Tha American "news" most certainly doesn't report things like this.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

Maralexa - Thanks very much and Link away :)

The certification doesn't work because someone is always willing to certify poached ivory, that's been seen time and again, all it takes is a bit of a bribe, and there you go.

Mammoth ivory is typically tan to all out brown, I've owned some of it myself for guitar parts :)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

Joanne M Olivieri - Thanks very much. So long as the Chinese are buying Ivory, then there won't really be an end to it.

I'm told there is a pink dye they're applying to elephant tusks that might solve the problem. The dye doesn't bother the elephants, but the Chinese don't want pink ivory!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on May 04, 2013:

Wow! The statistic about tigers in Texas is one I didn't know. What in the world are Texans doing with tigers??? I know there is one of those wildlife farms you drive through near Dallas (where zebras and llamas stick their heads in tourists' cars for food), but when I visited they didn't have any animals that could hurt someone. Maybe you need to write a hub about the "Texas tigers."


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

JayeWisdom - No thanks very much!

Also, especially thanks for reminding me about Palm oil. I've read about how wicked that whole deal is, but I never remembered to research about the stuff further...and I do intend to do so!

Another thing....tiger bones, If I recall correctly, are used for some wanky superstitious thing or another...and there are now more Tigers in Texas than there are in all of Asia...which is terrible, but maybe all those weirdos owning Tigers here...could aid in repopulation.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

Thanks very very much Daisy Mariposa :) You sure seemed to help, and if I can ever return the favor, just let me know!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

mary615 -Absolutely! No one can even truly say how intelligent an elephant actually is, and how they know some things they know...we do not understand ourselves.

There was a man who spent lots of time caring for elephants in the wild in Africa who'd died recently....and elephants from hundreds of miles around came to where he'd been to mourn his death.

How did they know? We don't understand how or what all elephants know.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on May 04, 2013:

pinto2011 -thanks very much! There's also those goons who spend thousands of dollars to go to Africa and ...pose with some creature they'd shot...a creature that didn't even realize it was being hunted.

Killing something for a phot opportunity makes less sense than anything to's like being a future serial killer of humans...certainly it is in the same vein of action.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on May 04, 2013:

Poachers are nothing but stupid savages. But I cannot help but wonder what exactly is the difference between ivory sellers and meat sellers, and lovers of ivory art and meat, fish and chicken eaters? Humans are parasites - destroyers of life on this planet. Of course, the cruelty-factor is considered to be the boundary. Down here poachers get shot, and then the shooters have to face the laws in favor of so-called human rights. What a struggle!

Excellent hub!

whonunuwho from United States on May 03, 2013:

Well written and well accepted, my friend. There can never be enough said about the elephant and it preservation. Thank you so much for sharing in this fine work and much appreciated. whonu

Marilyn Alexander from Vancouver, Canada on May 03, 2013:

Hi Wesman - great article. I would like to link it to my article on how the development of synthetic ivory (from ox bone and resin) may help to stop the slaughter of elephants everywhere.

By the way, CITES banned international trade in ivory in 1989. So no one can legally import ivory. But those countries (eg. Thailand) that have large, and escalating, domestic markets for ivory (Thailand has huge supplies of ivory) continue to contribute to the slaughter of elephants in Africa because the ivory is smuggled in and mixed with the domestic supply. And it won't be stopped until Thailand implements legislation to ban trade in smuggled ivory.

By the way, for African Ivory - it's legal or own and sell within a country if the raw or worked ivory was imported before 1989 or, if imported after 1989, was at least 100 years old at time of importation. For Asian ivory the same applies but the importation date is 1976. This is the case in the US and Canada.

The trade in mammoth ivory is totally legal because the mammoth is extinct. The reason fossilized woolly mammoth ivory is high quality is because it isn't turned to stone like the fossils of other extinct species. And that's because it lived and died in the tundra areas of the world.

Mammoth ivory is making a come-back because more carcasses are being found due to global warming.

But all this doesn't seem to stop the slaughter of elephants, the poaching of elephant ivory or the smuggling of elephant ivory.

Elephants will continue to be killed for their ivory tusks as long as there is a market for new elephant ivory.

It's more than just a shame that greed for wealth is more valued than intelligent creatures. Humans are a sorry lot. Those of us who would like to do something about this insatiable slaughter that has been going on since time immemorial, do not have the power to prevent the few insatiable, malevolent criminals from profiting outrageously by these heinous acts of vile destruction.

Joanne M Olivieri on May 03, 2013:

This hub is excellent and with so much news and information. Poaching is a huge problem and just makes me sick. I am glad you brought this to the forefront with your hub. Voted up and shared.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on May 03, 2013:

Very important article, Wes. Thanks for publicizing this atrocity.Voted Up+++ and sharing.

The National Geographic article you mentioned seems familiar. I either read that one or a similar article in The Smithsonian magazine. The facts about elephant poaching are heartbreaking, and extinction is only a matter of time (and a short time, at that, according to the massive numbers of killings) if it isn't halted.

The slaughter of elephants for their ivory (and rhinos for their horns to be ground by the superstitious and ignorant who think it is an aphrodisiac) is horrendous, but there are some cultures that have no respect for either human or animal life. (Anyone eles remember the Chinese government's massacre in 1989 of hundreds (or, some say thousands) of protesting students in Tiananmen Square?)

The role of the newly-wealthy Chinese in the black market ivory trade is just one more reason I try to avoid buying Chinese imports. This means I do without a lot of things that are no longer manufactured in the USA or other countries with standards for human rights and humaneness to animals...but, so be it. (Fortunately, I searched diligently and found American-made printer ink cartridges online.)

I also avoid buying any product containing palm oil, since the palm oil industries are destroying the elephants' habitat. (Palm oil isn't healthy, anyway, but is used in a lot of processed junk food. It would do most folks good to avoid it.)

Sorry I got carried away, Wes, but these topics tend to make me climb onto my soapbox!


Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on May 03, 2013:


Thanks for publishing this well-researched, well-written, important article. I'm sharing it with my HP followers, tweeting it, and posting it on Google+.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on May 03, 2013:

I admire the elephant in so many ways! I have read how they are so family oriented and mourn the loss of one of their own.

It makes me sick that people would kill one of these majestic animals for profit.

Voted UP and shared.

Subhas from New Delhi, India on May 03, 2013:

I just love such type of feelings for our fellow creatures. Killing for profit or creating a decorating item is absolutely nonsense and unethical. Human is is superior that does not give it the right to kill other animals and disturb is biodiversity for profit, entertainment, and market products. I really respect your views.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on March 04, 2013:

rajan jolly - Yes SIR! and Thanks very much!

We've really got to press the people of Taiwan and China to stop buying it - it seems that is where the money to kill the elephants is coming from :/

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 04, 2013:

We all certainly have a role to play in the survival of these beautiful and threatened elephants. We must absolutely refuse to buy ivory items.

Very interesting. Voted up.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 28, 2013:

CMHypno - " We also need to lose the idea that owning expensive things makes us a more valuable and important human being."

I don't know how to top that sentence! That's the absolute truth there!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 28, 2013:

Thanks very much, Sis!

I'll tell you a secret though - some of us acoustic guitar pickers have some guilt in all of this - I've got a guitar with ivory bridge pins, and I have several ivory picks. Of course I've owned that stuff for twenty years or more -I wasn't always the person who realized what all goes on far away :/

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 28, 2013:

Hey Chris - that's what I think about it. I'd see no problem in selling the ivory from an elephant that up and died for any ordinary reason, but there is no good way to prove or certify that ivory as "legitimate."

I think they've tried that...and found it doesn't work, so it ought to just be banned completely to prevent the slaughter.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 28, 2013:

Hi Larry Fields, I didn't realize what was going on with elephants either - but I guess that was because I wasn't aware of the Asian fetish for ivory.

That palm ivory seems risky!

Here in the US - you can literally buy things made from woolly mammoth ivory, maybe we could sell our mammoth tusks to China for drastically elevated prices :/

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on February 28, 2013:

Trouble is Wes the human race tends only to think short term and then only about what they want in that moment. These days we are lucky in that there are many synthetic materials or substitutes, we do not need to use ivory. We also need to lose the idea that owning expensive things makes us a more valuable and important human being. Yes it is nice to have luxury items, but not at the expense of animals such as the elephant.

There was an interesting documentary on here a few weeks ago about a reserve in South Africa where the rhino are being so heavily poached that they have had to find a secret location and airlift them there. It was awesome to see these huge animals being dangled under a helicopter as they were being flown to safety. Hopefully the poachers won't find them and they will live and breed in peace for their natural lifespan. But these magnificent creatures are being slaughtered purely for some twisted beliefs that we humans hold about rhino horns being magical and healing.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on February 27, 2013:

Hey, Wes -- this is one of those horrible things I despise and feel helpless about -- and can't help but wonder how many more are out there that feel just like I do? Obviously, I own no ivory in any form and take every opportunity to discourage those who do -- but again, that's far too little and way too late. Thanks for this intelligent and well written Hub on a subject that MUST involve all of us. Best/Sis

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on February 27, 2013:

The only thing really to do is to have a complete international ban on all ivory sales and back it up with real penalties. Too many leaders are sucking up to the Chinese because of trade. Selling a few extra cars, will not make up for the extinction of elephants.

Larry Fields from Northern California on February 26, 2013:

Hi Wesman,

I had no idea that the problem was that big. Voted up and awesome.

By the way, there's an alternative to animal ivory. It's palm ivory, aka Tagua. If I remember correctly, there's a (white?) liquid inside certain palm nuts. When you tap it, and put it into a container that's exposed to the air, the stuff dries and hardens. Then it looks and feels like animal ivory. And it can be used to make jewelry and knickknacks.

The catch is that Tagua art must be kept dry. Otherwise the object will eventually become an amorphous blob.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 26, 2013:

Thanks Billy! I need to read that hub of yours! The Rhino thing is just as disgusting - aren't they using that stuff in potency potion or something?

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 26, 2013:

Thanks very much, Randy!

Yeah, somewhere in this thing I linked to a NatGeo article, and in it...and this isn't really THAT surprising, it even linked the Roman Catholic Church to selling carved ivory crosses, etc.

Hey, for an extra bit of cash they'll have a priest bless it for ya!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 26, 2013:

Great job Wesman. I did a hub about the rhino poaching a few months ago. The Chinese could care less about international law or any thoughts of saving the species. The Black Market for this ivory is huge with hundreds of millions of dollars being made. Yes, we are all responsible, especially anyone who buys ivory. There is no excuse!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on February 26, 2013:

A very fine and timely article about how these wonderful creatures are being exploited and the methods used trying to save their species, Wesman. I read in national Geographic about this horrible poaching problem and was amazed at how the ivory is so intricately carved by certain sellers.

Another great hub, Wesman!

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