National Geographic Daily News
Photo of ivory objects due to be destroyed in Colorado.

Ivory pieces will be crushed in a first global push by the United States to stop the illegal ivory trade.

Photograph by Joe Amon, The Denver Post/Getty Images

Bryan Christy

for National Geographic

Published November 12, 2013

This Thursday, the United States government will destroy nearly six tons of ivory, which represents a good portion of the ivory the U.S. has seized since the late 1980s, when a national ban on commercial African ivory imports went into effect.

It will be a symbolic act. But symbolism matters.

Ivory destruction ceremonies have been a litmus test for where a country stands on the ivory trade ever since Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi torched 13 tons of ivory in 1989, setting the stage for a vote to ban international trade in ivory by parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

That ban went into effect in 1990. Six months later, the U.S. ivory market collapsed.

With no international market, it might have been reasonable for all CITES parties to destroy their ivory stocks after the 1990 international ivory ban took effect.

But the ban did not last. In 1999 and again in 2008 parties to CITES voted to allow ivory sales.

The first sale was of 55 tons to Japan and the second, of 115 tons to Japan and China.  In the wake of the China sale, elephant poaching and ivory trafficking have boomed. So has the need for international action. (See related article: “Ivory Worship.”)

Last year, Gabon burned 4.8 tons of ivory. Earlier this year the Philippines became the first non-African country to destroy its ivory stocks when it crushed five tons of ivory.

Each was an act by a relatively poor country sacrificing a potential asset for principles that go beyond money. "The Philippines will not be a party to this massacre, and we refuse to be a conduit to this cycle of killing," Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said last summer, when his country crushed its ivory.

But not all ivory destructions are alike.

One of the most amazing things about the African elephant is its ability, despite its immense size, to blend in with its surroundings. Just meters away, even seasoned scouts can overlook an elephant.

So, too, does the language surrounding the elephant’s protection easily conceal the size and nature of the ivory trafficking problem.

The United States banned the import and export of African ivory in 1989 but it did not ban its domestic sale. So ivory continues to be openly available for sale in luxury shops just off Madison Avenue in New York City, just as it is in San Francisco and other American cities. (See pictures of the ivory trade around the world.)

As recently demonstrated by criminal cases in New York and Philadelphia, America's legal ivory market has offered an incentive for ivory smugglers.

In 2012, New York state announced guilty pleas by two ivory dealers. In 2011, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) agents raided the African art store of Philadelphia African art dealer Victor Gordon, seizing an estimated ton of ivory from his facilities and his customers. (According to USFWS officials, Gordon's ivory is considered evidence and is not part of the ivory to be destroyed this week.)

But it would be a mistake to think ivory trafficking to the United States compares in any meaningful way to ivory smuggling to China.

U.S. Customs and USFWS inspectors are among the most respected border patrollers in the world and have only interdicted a total of six or so tons of ivory since 1989.

It's not been surprising to find that amount of ivory in a single illegal shipment or two bound for China. In 2011 alone, 46.5 tons of illegal ivory were seized, much of it headed for China.

In choosing to destroy its national ivory stock a quarter century ago, Kenya took a big risk. Its ivory burn put that country in conflict with its southern neighbors who wanted to expand the ivory trade, and it cost Kenya a lot of potential revenue.

But Kenya made a calculation that tourism for live elephants was more valuable than trinkets from dead ones. In destroying its ivory stocks this week, the United States has much less at stake than Kenya did in 1989, or even than Gabon or the Philippines did more recently.

"We hope this is only the beginning and as a next step the U.S. bans its domestic ivory trade," said Paula Kahumbu, director of Kenya-based Wildlife Direct. "Every single thing that demonstrates individual or national responsibility is a step in the right direction."

When it comes to today's ivory trade, one important resource the United States has that other countries don't is its economic relationship with China. Unlike the U.S., China's government seeks to expand its domestic ivory trade and to import more ivory from Africa.

Law enforcement in Asia and Africa is inadequate to stop ivory trafficking syndicates. So calling upon China and other countries to ban the domestic sale of ivory and to join the U.S. would be an even more meaningful expenditure of American political capital.

44 comments
Mark T.
Mark T.

The crushing or burning of ivory here will do nothing to save live elephants. Nearly all the available elephant ivory in the US today is "estate ivory" , brought here before 1989. In 2012, a statement from the USFWS admitted that the ivory black market in the US is nearly nonexistent. Most of what I use is mammoth or fossil walrus ivory; I only use elephant ivory to make custom replacement grips for Marine officer swords, and the scraps from them to make small jewelry pieces. I waste nothing. My cost for this ivory: $31 per ounce. Why would I even think of paying black market prices, when my legal source is less than 1/5 that of illegal ivory?

Mark T.
Mark T.

At least the writer sees it as symbolic - for that is all it is. All it will do is assuage the tender sensibilities of a few armchair environmentalists, while it drives the price of ivory through the roof - it sends the wrong message to the wrong people. Some symbol. 


What should have been done was to sell the ivory at a price significantly below the black market price, flooding the market in the US (Only about 5% of the world ivory market) for years to come. Then they should have donated the proceeds to African governments to help them set up anti-poaching and education programs. I would venture a guess that a significant proportion of the elephants are killed by farmers trying to protect the crops they unwittingly planted along traditional elephant migration routes. As human populations in Africa increase, so will this part of the problem. We have the luxury to sit in our living rooms and be enraged that animals on the other side of the world are needlessly dying; the African farmer is trying 

to protect the food he and his family will be eating during the dry season.


Don't get me wrong - I fully support the CITES treaty, which bans/controls international trade in protected and endangered species. But the use of ivory already here should be continued. It is much easier and effective to regulate a market than has been in place since our nation came into being. Look at the prohibition fiasco as a historical example, or the present discussion on gun control for examples. Outright banning of ivory would create an enforcement nightmare.


As a scrimshander, I often hear the comment that the sale of ivory in any form (including fossil mammoth and walrus, ivory from wild boar, warthog, elk and other non-threatened species, and repurposed antique ivory like piano keys and billiard balls) promotes the slaughter of elephants. Using the same chain of logic, we should not cut Christmas trees or build our homes of wood because that promotes the destruction of rainforests. It's silly and uninformed. In 5 minutes, I can show anyone how to identify ivory from different sources.


Ivory as a medium for either art or useful items has a long history. Many of the Venus figurines carved 20-40K years ago, were carved in mammoth ivory. The Inuit and other groups in the far north have used walrus and cetacean ivory for thousands of years for everything from harpoon points to sled runners. And the only art form of American origin - scrimshaw - traditionally uses different kinds of ivory, although I also use bone and antler. Ivory of different types is used in musical instruments: piano keys, nuts and tuning pegs in stringed instruments (where it is the best material for the job). Eschewing the use/sale of all ivory ignores its historical significance, signs the death warrant for the only truly American art form, and deprives artisans of a material ideally suited for an intended purpose.

My J
My J

The problem with a total ivory ban, for me personally, is that when I enter the US, my violin bows may be confiscated. They are not tipped with elephant ivory, but with mastadon ivory (an unthreatened source), as are the majority of all violin and cello bows. Not to mention piano keys. Will it also be illegal for violin makers to repair bows?


Friend sent me this: http://www.netrehair.com/ban-against-all-ivory/

Julie Callahan
Julie Callahan

Thank you for your investigative journalism to help elephants.  Lets hope we can wake up the world before it is too late.  China must say NO to ivory and so must the US.

Rich Iott
Rich Iott

OMG ... you are totally stupid. You have sent a message to the ivory-consuming world that that potential supply of ivory has just been reduced by tons. Therefore, you have driven the price up! Are you totally insane or just infected with we-can-save-the-world-itis?  The smart thing to do would to have dumped all that ivory on to the market at little or no cost and have driven the market down, for the short term at least, to where poaching wasn't profitable. But the do-gooders must be do-gooders...

Rich Iott
Rich Iott

OMG ... you are totally stupid. You have sent a message to the ivory-consuming world that that potential supply of ivory has just been reduced by tons. Therefore, you have driven the price up! Are you totally insane or just infected with we-can-save-the-world-itis?  The smart thing to do would to have dumped all that ivory on to the market at little or no cost and have driven the market down, for the short term at least, to where poaching wasn't profitable. But the do-gooders must be do-gooders...

richard jones
richard jones

the way to stop poaching is to stop it in the countries like africa. do you really think they want to stop it. NO .Too much money and payoff. so what does the Govt. parasites in this country do---they crush artifacts that could have served a good funding source for a good cause.---but no we crush them and smile about it like you really did something big. You people are stupid, stupid, and dumb as rocks.  How many elephants have the usa as their natural habitat??? NONE!!!!




Brenda Szasz
Brenda Szasz

      There is a very critical point that all these arguments about the  trade in ivory are missing. Ivory is NOT like alcohol or drugs.  Ivory, as a commodity,  comes from complex, feeling, sentient beings. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars looking for intelligent alien life forms in outer space - but we have them here, and like the cetaceans, we're slaughtering them to the point of extinction.

     As an art restorer, I have likely handled more, and more different kinds of ivory than most people. And I think I can truly appreciate its beauty as a material, and some of the exquisite ivory carvings I've seen. However, as a person studying elephants, I have learned that they are infinitely MORE precious than any art object. 

    I challenge anyone to read the family histories of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, and not feel shame when an elephant with a NAME, and its relatives, are killed for a part of their bodies.

  At this point, I would myself destroy any ivory object, anywhere, no matter what the historical or art value, if it would save the life of ONE elephant.  A 17th century netsuke worth $250,000? Or a living elephant?  Hand me the hammer.

    

Coryn Zhou
Coryn Zhou

To those who thinks that ivory accounts for the "cultural history" of the U.S. and believes that elephants should be continued to be hunted for their tusks.....................I hope you are the first to feel the effects of natural disaster as elephants go extinct and chains in the ecosystem collapse.

Godfrey Harris
Godfrey Harris

As the hour for the crushing operation in Denver draws nigh, I am reminded that we are no different than the Taliban when they destroyed two magnificent Buddhist statues in Bamyan, Afghanistan, because the statues were an affront to Sharia law governing idols. Mind you, the statues had nothing to do with Islam! Tomorrow, the Fish and Wildlife Service will crush 6 tons of ivory objects. It will not have any measurable impact on the further poaching of elephants in Africa. Will Daniel M. Ashe, the head of the FWS, be every much as guilty of destroying our cultural history as Mullah Omar was? How can we allow this to happen again?

Eleanor Anstruther
Eleanor Anstruther

They will all be gone soon if the world demand for trinkets continues. . . Please stop the marketing of I vory and let the  Elephants  rebound .

El Gabilon
El Gabilon

The ivory trade continues because like drugs people buy the end product. T  We therefore are all responsible  and most really don't care as evidenced by their actions. The human race needs to re-evaluate itself and face the fact that it is predatory, a parasite upon the earth, and worse a parasite upon itself.  There is however another side to the story. Usually those who engage in the hunting of elephants for ivory have no other recourse regarding income. The same applies to Afghans who grow poppy because other products will not support their families. Provided with an alternative things could change. Those who make the "real" money however are not the farmers, but each step above them as the product is refined. In some areas the people have been encouraged to create tourist attractions which bring in more than the killing of wild animals. 

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz

The poachers themselves are the small fry in the illicit trade.  The real money is made by traffickers who finance the operations.  The way to stop the traffickers is to take their profit out of it; raise the marginal cost above the marginal income.  This can be done through by making it more difficult for them to fund operations by clamping down on the financial institutions that handle their accounts, and also by raising the cost of poaching by greater enforcement.  That raises the costs, and marginal income can be reduced by permitting legal trade.

That will not achieve what the activists really want which is to confiscate every piece of ivory in the United States and elsewhere.  In the Victorian period the greatest use of ivory in the U.S. was piano keys; they were fabricated in Ivoryton, Connecticut.  Are Victorian pianos to be confiscated?

It is illegal to import certain rosewood.  Are we to confiscate every item with rosewood no matter its age?  Longleaf pine is nearly extinct, are we to tear up old houses with such pine as flooring?  Where does it end?

Godfrey Harris
Godfrey Harris

No matter what the hope of those who oppose any use of ivory, crushing ivory will not rescind the laws of economics. When supplies are scare and demand stays the same, prices must rise. The higher the reward for something that is illegal, the more people are willing to take the risks. While one person denigrated the comparison to Prohibition in the United States, the famous etchings of pickpockets picking pockets of gentlemen gathered to watch a hanging of pickpockets makes the point in another way.

Neither the author nor your commentators have made the point that all the 37 legal ivory factories in China apparently could keep up with demand from the tusks that come from animals that die of natural causes. If these tusks were collected, identified, and sold in a regulated market, the reward for poachers would decrease to the point that additional supplies would have little value. Would legal supplies increase demand for product. Perhaps, but if the money now lost to the activities of criminal gangs were applied to improved enforcement techniques and anti-corruption efforts, we might gain equilibrium in the marketplace.



Aimee Lonon
Aimee Lonon

All this is going to say is that those elephants died for nothing. Not only did their lives get taken, but what they died for is being destroyed along with them. We could be putting this ivory to use. Maybe make some sort of expressive art piece as a symbol of how hurtful poaching can be? I'm sure there are plenty art students who would love the opportunity. Don't just destroy something so valuable and beautiful out of spite.

Steve Ekberg
Steve Ekberg

Crush it or burning it only causes more illegal trade since the available stock is destroyed. The US ought to sell it on the open market and take all the money and send it back to Africa to help pay for stricter enforcement of poaching.

Caroline Mason
Caroline Mason

We cannot and must not sell stockpiled and confiscated ivory, just as we cannot and must not sell stockpiled and confiscated rhino horn. We must demonstrate that both these items are of NO value to anyone except their original owner, the elephant and the rhino. If we sell, we lend legitimacy to the product and therefore send the message that ivory and rhino horn are up for grabs. Another reason is that a sale would render all the hard work (and money) that some people and organisations are doing to raise awareness of the plight of the elephant and other endangered wildlife. The one-off sales of ivory several years ago were rigged by China and Japan colluding together on the price, China wanting the big pieces and Japan wanting the smaller pieces so there was no contest and the estimate funds thought likely to be raised from these sales fell far short of expected revenues and poaching escalated. Crushing or burning the ivory is the only way.

Daniel Stiles
Daniel Stiles

Christy raises some important points, but the proposed solutions to elephant poaching simply won't work. For example, he says, “Law enforcement in Asia and Africa is inadequate to stop ivory trafficking syndicates. So calling upon China and other countries to ban the domestic sale of ivory and to join the U.S. would be an even more meaningful expenditure of American political capital.”

The first sentence is true, but the proposed action unfortunately would work no better than Prohibition did in the U.S. for alcohol or the War on Drugs has worked globally to reduce drug smuggling. Bitter experience has shown that banning something does not make it go away. A much more sensible and feasible approach to reduce elephant poaching would be to increase efforts to reduce consumer demand while concomitantly making legal raw ivory supplies available to replace poached ivory. Take the illegal markets away from the poachers and traffickers and put the proceeds of legal trade into government coffers.

Christy also says, “China's government seeks to expand its domestic ivory trade and to import more ivory from Africa.”

This is true and it is crucial that this policy be changed through dialogue and negotiations with China.

The 1989 CITES trade ban did reduce ivory market scale in the U.S., but reports by the Humane Society (2002), TRAFFIC (2004) and Martin & Stiles (2008) all concluded that ivory demand persists, and the USA ivory market is ranked second in the world.

Crushing the US stockpile in Denver will not change that. But it might spur poachers to increase their efforts.

David Guerra
David Guerra

When elephants are being killed for ivory, destroying this ivory doesn't seem right. That's my opinion and it will remain that. If there is a demand, this could help mitigate it. It will certainly reduce the market prices, not increase them. Turn confiscated ivory into certified ivory, keep searching for illegal ivory, use the funds from the sale of confiscated ivory to fund the enforcement of the law. I see no moral dilemma in that.

David Furman
David Furman

The goal to preserve elephants (and even more endangered rhinos) is laudable, but there are a couple of points that destruction of these ivory does not speak to.  First, since the animals that produced this ivory are already dead, how does destroying this ivory (or banning the sale of all ivory, perhaps centuries old) bring back those elephants?  Perhaps putting this ivory to productive use is a better answer.  It is like the dilemma of doctors and scientists finding life-saving data collected by Nazi scientists with experiments upon human subjects in concentration camps.  The collection method was reprehensible. In fact, far worse than merely reprehensible. But now we come to the information. Should it be destroyed because it was collected by the Nazis? Or use to save lives in the present?  Which better honors the memory of the victims?  Second, as just about every attempt at prohibiting a substance (drugs, alcohol, etc.) has usually only succeeded in creating a criminal empire to meet the demand, is destroying this existing ivory stock eliminating the ivory market or only increasing the profit margin for criminals?  In some countries, the market for ivory is very soft, but in others, such as in China and certain other countries, there is a perfect storm of a traditional demand for ivory, combined with growing middle and wealthy classes that want to show off their new status.  Ivory is not just for the emperor any more. And tragically the rarer an animal becomes, the higher demand there is in some circles for some of this hard to obtain item (fur, ivory, rhino horn, etc.)   Like controlling drugs, eliminating demand works far better than attempting to control supply.  But achieving either is unfortunately something that may only happen when the last elephant is gone, because the only way to totally eliminate the ivory supply is to eliminate the elephants themselves.

Anishlal N.K
Anishlal N.K

It will cause the hike in price.That will encourage black traders. Why cant we sell it,and certify?

Brain Implant
Brain Implant

I had no idea Ivory was sold in New York still. I hate even thinking that poaching still goes on at this magnitude. Tons? I am disgusted. 


Poaching is subhuman activity, and the news that we might use drones to stop poachers was actually good news to me. 

For anyone stopping this inhumane practice you have my full respect. 

Patricia Stillman
Patricia Stillman

The US must ban all sale of old and new ivory objects! No one needs ivory...only the elephants need their tusks. Why would anyone want to own or wear part of a vanishing species whose life was given for the vanity of a human being? The world has a choice of an inanimate object to remember an elephant or a living, majestic elephant. What will history say of our choices? Our generation decides the existence of an entire species. Ban Ivory Save Elephants and help stop the killing.

Roger Bird
Roger Bird

It should help raise the price of ivory, duh!

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz

@Brenda Szasz As far as I can discover, Ms Szasz, you are as much an art restorer as I am an Olympian decathlete.  But assuming you were, I encourage you to put in your ads and on your website (non-existent) your true feelings so that potential customers would know their precious objects could end up as dust at your hands.

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz

@Brenda Szasz  At what point will you delineate between the animals we can use, and those we cannot.  I understand your point about elephants, but what about all the other creatures that we use for clothing, food, art, etc. 

People often give names to the cows on our ranch.  But when roundup time comes, the named critters are bound for someone's plate, and maybe a pair of shoes or luggage.  No one objects because the cow had a name, was sentient, etc. 

Horses with names end up as dog food.  Cats and dogs in certain countries in Asia have names, and they end up in restaurants. 

Do you have a bright line to guide us?

John Salevurakis
John Salevurakis

@Brenda Szasz But would you advocate the sale of a $250,000 piece of ivory art if it meant that ten elephants would be saved?  Frankly, I would even go so far as to advocate the outright killing of a single elephant if it meant that the revenue from the sale of such a hunt would put revenue into anti-poaching and save the lives of more than one pachyderm.   I always ask my friends..."Do you want more elephant, or THIS elephant".  In this case I guess I am asking if you think the symbolic burning of contraband ivory has a greater positive impact on elephant populations than the revenue from the sale of  this ivory when it could be used to fund armed forces to protect elephant habitat? Frankly, I don't think we live in a world where symbolism can change minds quickly....dollars and force do however.   

James Crag
James Crag

@Godfrey Harris Today I read your NY Times op-ed and now this. You really care about your ivory huh?


Well, I believe this is a black or white issue, because if one truly wants elephants to survive, to not go extinct, that person has to accept that ivory tusks must not be harvested, crafted, or traded again. I want people to think of ivory as a deadly, forbidden, but addictive fruit.

Lisa Crosby
Lisa Crosby

@Godfrey Harris You really are an evil man!!! How can you possibly think like that? You obviously know nothing at all about elephants!!! Your just a money hungry man with a small brain and a smaller heart!! 










Cynthia Carlson
Cynthia Carlson

@Godfrey Harris Ivory is a relic of the past and is tied to murder, intense suffering, injustice, abuse and exploitation of sentient beings. It is not something to be prized but rather something that was part of a magnificent being of this Earth yet was turned into profit making. Shame on humans who supported such, as such greed could possibly lead to the extinction of these elephants who rightfully belong on this Earth unfettered by humans.

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

@Steve Ekberg That makes no sense. The material is not available for trade it exists under lock and key as seized contraband.

What you propose is basicly a call for governments to subsidize  growth of an illegal trade for a tiny profit.

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz

@Caroline Mason How were two nations able to collude on price?  Is it because other nations banned the purchases and were not able to enter the bidding?  If so, does that tell you something? 

You say prices realized in the legal fell short of expectations and, as a result, poaching enterprises increased their efforts so that their income would also fall short of expectations?  And here  I thought they were in business to make money.

Are you saying that because tusks have only value to the elephant who grew them that even after death (assume natural) they cannot be used by others?  If not, why not? 

You must know that elephants are terribly destructive creatures which is why governments routinely cull them.  What is to be done with the ivory from culled animals?  What about the meat and hides?

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

@Daniel Stiles Seriously guys a 20th century alcohol prohibition in the USA does not work as an universal template for every argument against any form of contraband.

The fact is bans DO work in the vast majority of cases across much of history. Do not confuse a poorly thought out, weakly enforced, selective ban that the majority of the population was aginst with anything else.

Leena Lapena
Leena Lapena

@David Guerra Whether sold or not, and it could be to then donate that money to a fund that helps preserve them, destroying it after they died for it seems almost criminal itself.  Why not use the money to save the elephants that remain?

Kirk Frears
Kirk Frears

@David Furman Its mainly to limit the amount of ivory in circulation. Less ivory to trade means less of a market. Yes it may increase the cost of Ivory. But it shows a solitude stance that  we would rather destroy the Ivory than contribute to the trading of it. If Ivory is hard to obtain than the industry will die out or those involved will look for easier, alternative methods of making money. The more Ivory in circulation, the more likely it is to stimulate the market for trading Ivory. You can't easily trade something that is difficult to obtain and is in short supply. Did you read the article? that is basically what it is saying. Not sure how you linked the discoveries of Mengele to Ivory. Not really the same as one is information and the other is a physical object. Yes it will increase the price. But 5 pieces sold for "x" amount is better than 1000 pieces being sold for "y" amount.

Kirk Frears
Kirk Frears

@Anishlal N.K Because Elephants are killed to obtain the Ivory... That is the whole point of stopping the trade. it is already on the black market. But if you limit the supplies then it limits the market. It may increase the price on the black market, but there will be less in circulation and less Elephants killed if this is made a global no no in trading. As i already pointed out to someone who also seems to have not read the article. As that is what the article is highlighting. 5 pieces sold for "x" amount is better than 1000 pieces being sold for "y" amount. We are trying to stop Ivory being seen as a material possession to be sold and traded. If we just certify it then we are basically saying it is ok to trade in Ivory which would encourage more poachers to obtain more Ivory because the demand is there.

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz

@Patricia Stillman One reason people like ivory is because of its transcendent beauty.  For the same reason people like pearls.  Cultured pearls are now made by injecting an oyster with an irritant (a small grain of sand or equivalent).  The oyster responds to the irritant by laying down layers of nacre on the irritant, and then one day is opened up and out comes the pearl.  Is that fair to the oyster?  Let us ban pearls, cultured or otherwise.  And let us not stop there.

Leena Lapena
Leena Lapena

@Patricia Stillman I have an ivory tusk that was our family elephant, who lived with our family in India.  I would never sell it, but I do remember him with much love.  He was saved as a baby by us and lived a long long life in the habitat he belonged in.  His tusk after he died, is a tribute to him.  Our family donated that land to form the Chakrasilla Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the last strongholds of the golden langur and my cousin is founder of Nature's Beckon that educates thousands of native Assamese children to revere the local wildlife and each other, putting aside tribal differences to preserve the heritage, land and animal, including rhino and elephant.  Our keeping the tusk is in no way showing a disregard for wildlife....just the opposite.

Rebecca M
Rebecca M

@Roger Bird Did you even read the article? It clearly just gave you an argument for why keeping stockpiled "legal" ivory doesn't work. It actually STIMULATES the market for ivory.

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz

@Swiftright Right @Daniel Stiles If the majority of bans was effective, as you say, could you kindly provide some examples relating to products for which there was significant demand.

None come to mind. 

Robert Swartz
Robert Swartz

I am glad you raise the issue of counterfeit currency.  It is of course illegal to produce and use, so in the hands of law abiding citizens it is worthless.  But we do not fight counterfeiters by banning legal currency, but the proponents would fight illegal ivory by banning legal ivory no matter where situated.

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

@Robert Swartz @Swiftright Right @Daniel Stiles Well most Americans don't have access to counterfeit money, antitank rockets, or even (contrary to popular idea) heroin or cocaine. and thats with our weak enforcement and light punishment. 

Heck the Romans ran and incredible successful campaign to ban the color purple. Granted if you rolled into Rome wearing purple you could be executed by having your face cut off from your head. Can you imaging how fast drug usage would plummet if we started using that as mandatory punishment for drug dealing?

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