Religious Worshippers Driving Elephants to Extinction

B. McPherson


African elephants are under more pressure from poachers than ever. A global ban on ivory trade was instituted in 1990 but that hasn’t stopped the faithful demanding ivory for their religious props. From a baby Jesus to prayer beads to amulets and carvings, the elephants are fighting a losing battle.  According to information released by National Geographic Magazine in 2011 25 000 of those magnificent animals were slaughtered for profit.

The poachers have no regard for family groups or the boundaries of national parks. In January poachers riding horses killed hundreds of elephants using AK 47s and rocket launchers. The elephants never had a chance to run. Adults, mothers protecting their babies and the babies all slaughtered inside a park in Cameroon.

We no longer use ivory to make piano keys or billiard balls or anything else but what constitutes religious icons. The icons may be abstract, like prayer beads or images of a god. It is a cruel joke on the elephants that those who profess the most faith in religions that forbid the worship of idols in fact are using some imagined mystical property to elephant teeth
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While China is the biggest market for illicit ivory but the US is second in consumption. Indonesia has a tradition of carving religious pieces out of ivory is deep seated.

The Vatican has not signed the ivory ban accord(CITES). I wonder if an idol weeps tears of blood, elephant blood. Surely the god that created elephants will punish those who drive this horrible trade.

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