The Blood of Ivory

Ivory. The sound of it is so royal and prestigious, yet dark and terrifying. I think of ivory piano keys being beautifully played in a concert hall for an audience of well-respected men and women. The keys make such beautiful sounds, and the pianist can’t help but think to himself how nice the keys felt beneath his fingers. And all this beauty came at a price.

Being as cultured as we are, we are very aware of ivory’s value. We know what can be made of ivory, how much it could roughly cost, and the means of acquiring it. Ivory trade is one of the most controversial issues between wildlife conservationists and artists. Should we stop ivory trade to rescue the already endangered species? Or should we continue the ivory trade in order to promote the creativity in art and culture in the world? Should we sacrifice the future for joys of today?

In my opinion, the pro-ivory group would have a shameful disadvantage. It’s difficult to argue against dying animals, especially if they’re the earth’s most gentle giants. To continue ivory trade would be veiling a fog onto the future of tusk-wielding animals, such as elephants and walruses. The future is a mystery, but with statistics from wildlife biologists, we can correctly presume that more animals will be killed than will reproduce and survive. 30,000 elephants are killed each year from poaching. Elephants are not fish or shrews. They only have, at most, two calves in their lifetime. There is more water being drained out of the bucket than is being poured in.

So is ivory art worth it? I read several articles in natGeo about Philippine priests buying ivory carved figures of Jesus. In an interviews, the priest expressed that he had prior knowledge of endangered wildlife, especially elephants. The priests understood that the ivory was coming from illegal activities and proceeded to purchase it and make a religious figure out of the teeth of murdered animals.

I digress. I have to be honest, I’m very passionate about the subject. I understand that there are ignorant people in the world, such as those Philippine ministers. There are people in the world who are the essence of the hypocrisy that created the tiny little Jesus out of illegal ivory. Like blood diamonds, ivory comes at a large price. It is natural for men to be critically against blood diamond trade yet support art made of ivory.

This world we live in is a peculiar place indeed.

If you support the ban for ivory trade or want to know more about it, check out these websites: