Ivory trade has led to endangerment of species, resulting in restrictions and bans. Ivory was formerly used to make trinkets, jewellery and other decorative items because of the white colour it presents.
Elephant ivory has been exported from Africa and Asia for centuries with records going back to the 14th century.
In 1989 the ivory international market was closed, and traffic decreased. In 2007 South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe were allowed by CITES to sell to China and Japan the stock of ivory. But this possibility gave a boost to the international illicit ivory trade.
Every year, tens of thousands of elephants are brutally killed for their ivory. Between 2008 and 2013, the estimated death toll ranged between 30,000 and 50,000 elephants per year. The slaughter is horrifying; ivory dealers employ and arm poachers, who in turn target entire herds of elephants, shooting them with automatic weapons and hacking off their tusks with axes and chainsaws.
These tusks are fed into the illegal international ivory trade which is controlled by highly organised criminal syndicates. This trade feeds demand for ivory products in Asia, Europe, USA and elsewhere, which continues to bankroll elephants’ destruction. Legal international sales of ivory in 1999 and 2008 added to the demand but also caused confusion among consumers (‘is ivory legal or not?’) and provided an avenue for criminals to launder illegal ivory into the black-market.