Elephant ivory has been exported from Africa and Asia for centuries with record going back to the 14th century BCE. Throughout history ivory was used for piano keys, billiard balls, sculpture, jewelry, health and other expressions of exotic wealth. Yesterday, China and Thailand were supplying shops selling trinkets to tourists and businessmen in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, today, Vietnam has become a major threat to the Asian elephant population.
The conservative group Save the Elephants is ringing the alarm about the ravages of the illegal ivory trade and drew attention to the worrying growth of this business in Vietnam. This boom is explained by the cheap labor and an absence of legislation against this phenomenon in the country. Save the elephant says that Vietnam is today one of the world’s biggest illegal ivory markets, becoming popular among Chinese buyers. In the past eight years, the number of ivory items for sale has increased more than six times. The Association reports 75 percent of the ivory buyers in Vietnam come from China. In China, every item has to have an identification card. That is not required in Vietnam, so with the cost of administration, the cost of labor, the overhead are higher in China than Vietnam. That why Vietnam became today a major place for mainland Chinese to come down and buy ivory out of their country illegally.
International trade in Asian elephant ivory was banned in 1975 but still today, Ivory traders are not concerned and elephants continue to be killed illegally in Africa and in Asia. To fight against this problem, environmentalists are calling for more laws, but also for a strengthening of cooperation at the borders. “The application of the law is crucial, but this is not enough. There must also be a change in human beliefs and attitudes towards the elephants » argues Ian Douglas Hamilton , founder and CEO of Save the Elephants. In Asia, many people still believe that products made with certain animal parts have curative and mystical powers. Such medicinal powers were never been proved and have been dis-proved, but People still continue today to pay high prices to get them.