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Legalization of the Ivory Trade Essay

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Updated: Oct 25th, 2020


The illegal trade in ivory is currently the biggest challenge for wildlife conservationists who are trying to protect endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos. The black market for ivory has been growing globally, especially in China and other neighboring countries. Elephants and rhinos are killed indiscriminately in Africa and parts of Asia and tusks and little has been achieved by the effort put in place by authorities in these countries to fight the problem.

In some countries, government officers who are expected to protect the animals have been involved in the ivory trade because of the rampant cases of corruption. Poaching is currently conducted in a very sophisticated manner because of the emergence of organized criminal gangs in this trade. As Holtmeier notes, it is necessary to have a policy change that would help in protecting these endangered species (58). It is apparent that the current policies used in managing the problem are not effective enough.

Thesis: the study seeks to determine how legalizing the ivory trade is the best solution to stop the illegal ivory trading of elephants.

Solutions Currently Being Proposed

Poaching is considered the biggest threat to the existence of elephants, rhinos, and other animals currently classified as endangered species. The need to protect wildlife has forced the international community to come up with policies that would help in eliminating illegal ivory trade as a way of fighting poaching (Permitting Limited Trade 1). According to Adam, the international community came up with a ban on trade (44).

The policy was meant to eliminate the demand for ivory in the international market. However, the policy has not been as successful as was expected. China and other neighboring countries did not implement the ban. The demand for the product in Far East countries has fuelled illegal trade in ivory. McConnell notes that “a detailed study published in August 2014 estimated that poachers had killed more than 100,000 elephants in the previous three years, outstripping the animal’s rate of reproduction” (32). It means that the policy of banning trade is achieving little success if any. It is the reason why a section of the wildlife conservationists is now considering a possible policy change as a way of addressing this problem.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Those Proposals

The current policies may not be capable of addressing the problem of illegal poaching as the current statistics have confirmed. If nothing is done differently in the near future, elephants and rhinos may become extinct in the near future. Corruption has been the biggest weakness of the current policy that focuses on the ban on trade. Draper says that “many of the fighters, along with Congolese Army soldiers purporting to defend the territory, lingered well after the cease-fires, expunging the park’s wildlife for personal consumption or for sale as bush meat,” (62). That is why it is now necessary to consider a new approach.

The new proposal is to lift the ban on ivory trade in the international market. The main weakness of this problem is that it may legalize the hunting of elephants and rhinos in some parts of the world. However, the biggest strength is that it will make it possible to monitor and regulate this trade. Governments will be able to control the number of animals killed for the ivory.

The Most Effective Proposals

The current statistics strongly suggest that it is necessary to embrace new strategies, which may be more effective in protecting the endangered species. A report by World Wide Fund for Nature says that “we must create a new economic system that enhances and supports the natural capital upon which it relies,” (122). That is why it may be necessary to lift the ban. The international community should understand that the current ban is only acting in the interest of the poachers who are always working in cohorts with corrupt government officials in many developing nations in Africa and parts of Asia.

Reasons Why Legalizing Ivory Trade is the Best Solution

The legalization of the ivory trade may be the best solution to stop the illegal ivory trading of elephants and rhino’s tusks. Stiles says that “some conservationists have begun to argue for legal trade in ivory, saying it could help stem elephant poaching” (44). They believe that the traditional approach of banning the trade as a way of eliminating the demand has failed terribly. In fact, the ban is benefitting a few corrupt individuals who have the means to kill these animals for their trophies and deliver the products to the black market.


A change in policy may be necessary for the fight against illegal poaching that endangers elephants and rhinos. The international ban on the ivory trade has failed to protect these animals because of the growing black market for the product, especially in the Chinese market. It may be necessary to lift the ban. The move may allow governments around the world to regulate the process of harvesting and selling of ivory.

Works Cited

Adam, Rachelle. Elephant Treaties: The Colonial Legacy of the Biodiversity Crisis. University Press of New England, 2014.

Draper, Robert. The Battle for Virunga: Saving One of the World’s Most Dangerous Parks. National Geographic, 2016.

Holtmeier, Friedrich-Karl. Animals’ Influence on the Landscape and Ecological Importance: Natives, Newcomers, Homecomers. Springer, 2014.

McConnell, Tristan. “The End for Elephants? Gangsters Use Poachers to Make a Killing in the Ivory Trade.” Earth Island Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 30-38.

Permitting Limited Trade in Ivory Will Help Protect Elephants Africa. Reason Foundation, 2005.

Stiles, Daniel. “The Ivory Market: Keep it Closed or Open It up?” Earth Island Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 44-47.

World Wide Fund for Nature. Living Planet Report 2016: Risk and Resilience in a New Era. WWF International, 2016.

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