Greed will lead the largest land animal to extinction

Amanda Jung/ Staff Writer

It’s rare to encounter someone who says they don’t like animals. We are surrounded by a society of people who claim to be animal lovers.

We have pictures of our pets as our screen savers and take funny videos of them for memories. When you ask someone what their favorite animal is, there’s a possibility it’s an exotic species that they have never seen in person.

Elephants are amongst those that fall into this category. So many people claim to love elephants, but do they actually know they are an endangered species or understand what these animals have to face on a daily basis?

Believe it or not, the survival of this species is critical for the well-being of the planet.

During the dry season, elephants “use their tusks to dig for water,” but these watering holes also provide water for the other animals, according to Save the Elephants, an organization that works to protect elephants around the globe.

In addition, Save the Elephants states that when elephants eat, “they create gaps in vegetation,” which essentially allows new plants and pathways to grow.

These are creatures that boost the health of the ecosystem, yet they are highly endangered. Why is this?

According to Sarah Bird, a senior majoring in environmental engineering, humans use elephants for the ivory in their tusks and for entertainment purposes such as in zoos and circuses.

“Thousands of elephants are being killed each year” simply “for their tusks” while their “carcasses [are] discarded like hair clippings on a barber shop’s floor,” stated a report from The Atlantic.

Although ivory is still being traded, in 2015, Obama issued an executive order to ban all ivory trade.

“[The]bold action underscores the United States’ leadership and commitment to ending the scourge of elephant poaching and the tragic impact it’s having on wild populations,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in a press release to National Geographic.

Current law allows for the sale of ivory and ivory products in limited cases, only if the seller can prove the ivory is old and was lawfully imported. However, new rules further restrict exports and sales across state lines, including a limit on ivory trophy imports to two per year, per hunter.

“Although there are many sources of ivory such as walruses, rhinoceros, and narwhals, elephant ivory has always been the most highly sought because of its particular texture, softness, and its lack of a tough outer coating of enamel,” according to The Atlantic.

Many people do not understand that an elephant’s blood has to be shed in order to obtain ivory. So many everyday items are made of ivory that you might not even be aware of — jewelry, hair pins and ornaments, just to name a few.

If we want to continue sharing the earth with these precious creatures, serious measures must be taken. We should not be supporting the ivory trade. This means that we should not be purchasing items made from dead elephant tusks.

Nearly 100 elephants are killed each day, and there are currently 400,000 remaining, simply because of the ivory trade, according to the World Elephant Day website.

Society is going to have to get used to living without ivory, unless we want to get used to living without elephants.

It’s your choice and I hope you make the right one.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo taken from Flickr.

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