Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Asian elephants under increasing threat as illegal ivory prices soar

Source: e! Science News

Southeast Asia's few surviving elephants are under increasing threat from booming illegal ivory prices in Vietnam, according to a new market analysis released by TRAFFIC – the world's largest wildlife trade monitoring network and a joint program of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and IUCN. The survey reports that Vietnamese illegal ivory prices could be the highest in the world, with tusks selling for up to $1,500 per kilogram (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds) and small, cut pieces selling for up to $1,863 per kilogram.

Vietnam's law allows stores to sell ivory legally in stock before the 1992 prohibition on the possession and dealing in raw and worked ivory. Some shopowners restock illegally with recently-made worked ivory that they claim was from pre-1992 stock.

There is already solid evidence that Asian elephants are in trouble across the region. IUCN data reports that no more than 1,000 elephants are estimated in Laos – and fewer than 150 are believed to exist in Vietnam.

You'll all have to help me here. Why is Ivory so expensive and what is it used for?


Roger Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Williams said...

Ivory is expensive because it's harvested from scarce natural resources (elephants, rhinoceros, narwhals). It's used for making jewelry and various art objects. It's also used in China in powdered form to cure erectile dysfunction.

When, in our lifetime, there are no more rhinos, elephants or narwhals, be sure to go and thank an older Chinese guy for choosing to deal with his defective dick with traditional Chinese medicine instead of modern day quackery like Viagra or the like.