16/05/2014 05:37 BST | Updated 15/07/2014 06:59 BST

Hong Kong's Ivory Crush Is Much More Than a Symbolic Gesture

This week Hong Kong officials incinerated the first batch of ivory, from a 29.6 tonne stockpile, which in January 2014 they committed to destroy over a two year period. There are those that will question this move, claiming that destroying ivory stockpiles acts to increase the value of remaining ivory. Or that by putting this ivory into the legal ivory market instead, demand for ivory could be satisfied and as a result wild elephants would not be slaughtered by ivory poachers.

The reality however is very different. If illegally seized ivory was to be put into a legal ivory market, it would send two messages:

1. That illegal products, whether ivory, drugs, or counterfeit money can, at a time of choosing, simply be deemed legal. What confusing message does that send to the world?

2. That the animal, and those that depend on it, matter less than fulfilling the wishes of wealthy individuals. With an elephant killed every 15 minutes by the ivory trade, bowing to greed affirms that life matters less than material possessions.

I have no desire to see any species driven to extinction to satisfy the wants of Man, and like many, it makes me ashamed of our own species that Man can so wantonly kill others for money and status - human greed. Perhaps the argument would be different if we needed ivory to survive - if the survival of our own species rested on the ability to have ivory. But that is so far from the truth of the matter. Ivory belongs to elephants and it is needed by elephants, it is their survival that hangs in the balance, not ours, but it is entirely the fault of Man that we find ourselves in this position.


With that, any rational individual should reach the conclusion that having created the problem, we need to identify and implement the solution. That solution is known, ban all ivory sales and in the process, educate and inform people globally as to the truths behind ivory; two truths stand out to me - elephants are brutally killed for their tusks and criminal groups use illegal ivory markets to generate funds for terrorist acts that claim the lives of people.

One could extrapolate, that when you buy ivory, you not only have the blood of elephants on your hands, but that of people too - if the life of an elephant doesn't matter to you, then perhaps the life of another person does? Given the indiscriminate nature of criminal acts - a member of your family might lose their life in an attack and how then will you look upon your prized ivory ornament - was it worth more than your family member's life?