Last year, China had announced that they will shut down their ivory factories by 31 March 2017, and all retail shops by the end of 2017.
In an effort to save elephants from being hunted for their valuable tusks, the government had decided to place a ban on ivory. However, there were quite a few concerns that the ban might not work.
But things are looking better for the elephants. First steps have been made and there are signs that ivory trade is declining. So now, let’s learn about this good news.
Decline In Demand
Ivory is in high demand in China, and is often referred to as ‘white gold’ and ‘organic gemstone’. Not only are the 200-pound elephant tusks sought after as status symbols by many, they are also used for making piano keys, jewelry, sculptures and other everyday objects due to their easy-to-carve and durable nature. Read our earlier article here.
In order to meet the demand for ivory, poachers had ruthlessly and illegally killed thousands of elephants and smuggled ivory out of Africa into the markets of China.
One major concern with the ivory ban was that it could increase demand, leading to higher prices and black market trade. On the contrary, so far this is not a concern at all. The organization Save the Elephants has found that the price of ivory has plummeted. In 2014, a kilogram of ivory was worth $2100, and last month, the price has dropped to $730. Researchers believe that prices will drop further with the closing of China's ivory market.
However, that is not the only good news. To replace ivory, jewelers might turn to a seed they can use instead.
An Alternative To Ivory
Yes, a seed just might be able to meet the ivory demand and save quite a few of industries that rely on the ivory trade! Nicknamed “vegetable ivory,” the tagua seed from South America can be easily carved and created into jewelry, just like ivory. The seed is quite common and can be found on six species of palm trees, also known as “elephant plants.”
When the seeds are dried, they become soft enough to carve but hard enough to stay intact. In fact, tagua was once exported for European trade during the 19th century, and used to produce buttons, chess pieces and decorative handles for walking canes. But over the years, the seed somehow fell into obscurity.
As demand for tagua rises and the price of ivory falls, there is hope that we can indeed save the elephants!