The ban on ivory trade by China has occasioned a 75 per cent drop in the value of raw ivory from $3000 (KSh300, 000) to $700 (KSh70, 000) per kilo of the product in the world market over the past year.
Non-profit conservation body WildlifeDirect says it is delighted to see the doors of the world's largest ivory market close because poaching had climbed from a few thousand elephants a year to 33,000 – one every 15 minutes before the ban by China in 2015, which at the peak of the trade accounted for up to 70 per cent of the total world market.
“We are working closely with the Amarula Trust to push for a total ban of ivory trade,” said WildlifeDirect CEO Dr. Paula Kahumbu.
The Trust in conjunction with wildlifedirect, on Monday presided over the smelting of an ice-sculpture the size of a fully-grown elephant at a Nairobi hotel to commemorate World Elephants’ Day.
Kenya Wine Agencies Head of Corporate Affairs Mr Gordon Mutugi hailed the new role of corporates in conservation efforts saying it signalled an end to ivory as a durable investment commodity because poachers would no longer be able to resell it.
The ban by China on ivory trade in 2015 gave a much-needed impetus to the fight against the trade. The impact was such that, prices started to tumble. From a high of $3000 (KSh300, 000) a kilo for raw ivory, the bubble chain burst down to around $700 (KSh70,000) a kilo.
The event was held at DusitD2, on River Side Drive in Nairobi. Global brand, Amarula launched the “Don’t Let Them Disappear” campaign in South Africa, a joint initiative with African wildlife conservation organisation, WildlifeDirect. Various other countries, including Duty Free, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Germany are also participating in the global campaign.
Dr Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect said: “What many people don’t realise is that the future of the African elephant is at a tipping point, and this could have a far-reaching effect on the greater African habitat, because elephants are keystone species. This means that they play an indispensable role in the healthy functioning of the larger ecosystem.”
If elephants were to disappear off the face of the earth, the ecosystem would change dramatically or cease to exist altogether. This might be a reality at the rate that things are going - around 96 African elephants are poached for their ivory every day, that’s one elephant every 15 minutes.
Humans have poached animals into extinction throughout history, with large mammals having been most affected.
Elephants, one of Africa’s most iconic giants are the largest land mammals on Earth, part of the big five and are estimated to live for up to 70 years without human interference. Yet, they face extinction due to poaching. With the last few remaining species of giant mammals, including elephants largely confined to Africa, it’s up to humans to know better and do better.
World Elephant Day, an international annual event that takes place on 12 August is dedicated to raising awareness about the preservation and protection of elephants.
Giant melting ice sculpture unveiled
During the occasion, an ice sculpture of a life-size elephant appeared and slowly melted, dramatically symbolising the disappearance of the elephant population.
This is expected to lead to mass awareness, and was witnessed by people from different cities around the world who also watched ice elephants slowly disappearing in respective cities.
Spectators were encouraged to join the experience and spread the message on social media by using the hashtags #DontLetThemDisappear and #WorldElephantDay.
Global Brand Development Manager at Amarula, Saramien Dekker hoped the giant installation would be a captivating symbol to raise awareness.
“Amarula has been committed to elephant conservation since 2002, through our non-profit organisation, The Amarula Trust. We believe that collectively we can make a difference and that the biggest barrier is the lack of education and awareness around how important elephants are as a keystone species. We need the public to become aware of our future without elephants and understand that only if elephants thrive, so do we.”
The proudly African brand has launched various initiatives to raise awareness for the conservation of the African elephant and plans to continue their work in this field.