National Geographic
Menu

Legalizing Ivory Trade: Taking to New Heights a Dangerous Policy Proposal

From Alejandro Nadal and Francisco Aguayo: Debate around the policy response to the current elephant poaching crisis has been polarized around the issue of market-based instruments, and as a result a lot of attention has focused on some form of regulated legal trade. We examine first the proposal for legalizing international trade and establishing a high-end market model in China as a means to reduce illegal trade. Second, we analyze the assertion that speculative stockpiling is the core driver of elephant poaching.

CITES and confiscated elephant ivory and rhino horn – to destroy or not destroy?

Over the past 24 months we have seen a number of countries, including Belgium, Chad, China, Hong Kong SAR, China, Czech Republic, Gabon, France, Philippines, and the USA, destroy stockpiles of illegally traded elephant ivory and rhino horn that have been seized and confiscated. I have been invited by national CITES authorities to witness several…

Report Estimates Enormous Economic Value of Living Elephants

When a young elephant dies at the hands of an ivory poacher, according to a recent report, the commercial loss to the tourism industry is more than $1.6 million–­–the amount the animal would have contributed to the economy had it lived a full and happy life.

On the March in Washington, D.C., for Elephants and Rhinos

From Katarzyna Nowak: The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos brought together people in 130 cities worldwide (90 more cities than last year) on Saturday, October 4, 2014.

The march in Washington, D.C., assembled at the Lincoln Memorial and set off at noon, along Constitution Avenue, swinging left on 15th street. At E Street, we struck up a rousing chorus: “E is for Elephant, not Extinction!”

Q&A: Fighting Corruption and Wildlife Trafficking in Central Africa

  Naftali Honig is a 29-year old, Brooklyn-raised wildlife activist living in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Since 2009 he has been the coordinator of the Project for the Application of Law for Fauna Republic of Congo (PALF).   According to Honig, PALF departs from the anti-poaching paradigm: a “cops and robbers” scenario, in which the…

Opinion: Irrelevant, Illogical, and Illegal–24 Experts Respond to Arguments Supporting Legalization of the Ivory Trade

Compiled and edited by Katarzyna Nowak
I present comments from 24 authorities who lay out the flaws in pro-trade thinking, as recently elocuted in Daniel Stiles’s essay “Can Elephants Survive a Continued Trade Ban?” written in response to Christina Russo’s article “Can Elephants Survive a Legal Ivory Trade? Debate Is Shifting Against It.” These experts work in diverse fields, from anthropology, ecology, and conservation biology to law, journalism, politics, and economics. They voice their individual opinions, based on personal experience and research. As such, there is no suggestion that the commentators agree with each other, or are otherwise acting jointly.

How Burmese Elephants Helped Defeat the Japanese in World War II

James Howard “Billy” Williams, the son of a mining engineer from Cornwall, in England, seems to have stepped straight out of the pages of The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. Employed as a forest manager with a British teak company in colonial Burma, he was captivated by the strength, the intelligence, and even the sense…

Poisoned Tusker Treated in Daring Field Operation, the Eleventh in Two Weeks

The remarkable story about a large tusker who was rescued from a slow, poisonous death.

OPINION: Hong Kong’s Infamous and Shadowy Ivory Trade

By Alex Hofford

It is a little known fact that the blame for the elephant poaching crisis of the 1980s, which resulted in the global ivory ban of 1989, can be laid squarely at the feet of the Hong Kong ivory traders. And now they’re at it again.

OPINION: Elephants Are Not Widgets

By Grace Gabriel, International Fund for Animal Welfare
The ivory trade does not follow a neat economic model, and calls for a regulated legal market are naïve and misguided.

Protecting African Elephants: What a Year Can Accomplish

By John F. Calvelli

Shortly after the initiation of CGI’s Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants one year ago, WCS launched the 96 Elephants campaign, named for the estimated number of elephants killed illegally in Africa every day. The campaign has focused on securing effective U.S. moratorium laws, bolstering elephant protection with additional funding, and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the slaughter of elephants.

Zambia’s Hunting “Bans”—Shedding Light on a Complicated History

By Katarzyna Nowak

On August 21, Zambia was reported to have “lifted its hunting ban,” announcing that a ban on hunting big cats—leopards and lions—would remain. One week later, an addendum was issued by the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), clarifying that the hunting ban would remain in effect for elephants too.

However, confusion endures in the media, such as in a September 9 article on Mongabay: “Zambia ends trophy hunting ban, elephants fair game.”

Was there ever a hunting ban in Zambia, has Zambia resumed hunting, and will elephants be hunted?

OPINION: Can Elephants Survive a Continued Ivory Trade Ban?

Daniel Stiles, a member of the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group, discusses whether there should be a legal trade in elephant ivory, and proposes elements that could be included in a legal trade. The outcome, he believes, will be a significant reduction of elephant killing for ivory.  

It’s the Wild West in East Africa

The Niassa National Reserve is as remote as it gets in Mozambique. The size of Tennessee or three times the size of the Serengeti‎, Niassa is the home of one of the last stands for the African savannah elephant. Estimates indicate there are 13,000 elephants left, down from 20,000 at their recent highest.

Aerial Census of Africa’s Elephants Aims to Help Conservation, Anti-Poaching Efforts

OKAVANGO DELTA, Botswana—”Fifteen elephants right!” ecologist Mike Chase shouts above the roar of the single-engine Cessna. The plane swoops low over the herd of gray bodies as they wade single-file across the floodplain below. We’re flying over the channels and islands on the western periphery of the vast Okavango Delta, as part of the Botswana leg…