Ivory Price Has Halved, But No Celebration Yet

International NGOs such as Save the Elephants have shared the great news that the price of ivory has decreased by almost 50 percent over the past year and a half, thanks to successful campaigns by NGOs in educating the public, and also to collaboration between the American and Chinese governments to fight illegal wildlife trade. Below is an excerpt from the Save the Elephants press release:

During President Xi Jinping’s September visit to the U.S.A., he issued a historic joint statement with President Obama stating that their two governments will halt the commercial trade in ivory. In October Chinese state television gave Prince William the opportunity to address millions of people on curbing demand for ivory, and he spoke inspiringly that China could become a global leader in wildlife protection. All ivory dealers were aware of these events and depressed about the ivory industry, said the researchers.

Below is a video released by the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW) of a touching poem read by two young girls, entitled Lament of an Elephant Calf, performed alongside projection of a sand “painting.” Read the poem at the end of this post.

Recent public service announcements about the illegal ivory trade have also been made by U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, Vanke Chairman Wang Shi, pop singer Li Yuchun, actress Wang Luodan, CCTV anchor Zhang Yue, and other celebrities and opinion leaders in China.

In 2011, IFAW released a statement “thanking” the Zhejiang Education Department for having “stolen” their PSA campaign. The Education Department had used the content from IFAW’s campaign in a question on the college entrance examinations—meaning almost 300,000 students saw the campaign. Seeking to educate the public that ivory comes from dead elephants, the campaign’s poster features an elephant calf expressing his excitement to be growing teeth and the mother replies with silence.

“Mom, I got teeth.”

“Mom, I’ve got teeth!

Mom, aren’t you happy I have teeth now?”

A biotech consortium is planning to build the world’s largest animal cloning factory in Tianjin. With 200 million RMB investment, it aims to produce 100,000 cow embryos a year, and eventually be responsible for 5 percent of the premium cattle slaughtered in China. The Guardian writes,

The intended size of the operation dwarfs that of US companies allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell meat and dairy from cloned livestock since 2008. After a lengthy debate over cloned livestock, the FDA ruled that clones were as safe to eat as any other cattle, pigs or goats. But most cloned cattle in the US are used as breeding stock, to raise the quality of herds, rather than to sell for food.

Here is a trailer for a friend’s documentary, What’s For Dinner, that tries to raise awareness in China about the environmental footprint of meat consumption. He writes in chinadialogue:

It is ironic that China should be embracing so wholeheartedly western food habits along with capitalism. For all their scientific novelty, these cloned cows (should they materialise) will probably still end up on industrial-scale factory farms.

Lament of an Elephant Calf,” by Ma Rui

I am an elephant calf
The forests and grasslands are my home
I am an elephant calf
I love to cuddle up to my Mom
Seasons come and go
A kaleidoscope of colors in which I live
Sky is blue
Grass is green
This is the Heaven we roam
My Mom has beautiful tusks
White and curled like the crescent moon
Even fierce lions don’t dare attack
The tusks are the pride of our family
With giant bodies and sturdy steps
We love peace
And we are kind
I am an elephant calf
I dream of the day I will look like my Mom
But why is there sorrow in her eyes?
There was no wind that twilight
Bright red sun set on the horizon
Strange shadows prowled in the trees
Cold eyes peered from the darkness
A thunderous sound
Blood spewed out of Mom’s chest
A deep groan mingled with
Hysterical laughter
Another blast
And another
Her giant body collapsed
A look of desperation
Mixed with motherly love
I am an elephant calf
No more can I cuddle up to my Mom
Wondering aimlessly on the vast savanna
Tears cast into the harsh winds
Flowers have no more color
Stars have lost their luster
Only later I came to know
Those strange shadows are called “people”
The thunderous blast came from a gun
They wanted my Mom’s crescent tusks
To make strange objects
From beautiful jewelry
To delicate collectibles
Beauty and Art
Stained with filth and blood
People’s greedy desire
Turned our heaven into graveyard
I am an elephant calf
I wonder alone in the dark
Everywhere the same tragedy repeats
Our bodies strewn all about
I am an elephant calf
Nature is the home we share with people
My human friends,
Please listen:
One refusal
Will stop a bloody killing
One purchase
Will cause a painful slaughter
Your action
Means life and death
To my kind
Bleak desolation awaits
When elephants disappear
Darkness around the corner
When animals are all gone
I am an elephant calf
I am growing up
Just like my Mom
At that windless twilight
When the sun is setting
My human friends
Please tell me
What will be my destiny?