Ivory Trade and Sustainability Free Essay Samples & Outline

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Sample Essay on Ivory Trade and Sustainability

Trading in specimens obtained from protected species is illegal, however it can only be done if it is proved that such trade does not pose a threat to the survival of that species or its population in their natural habitat. In this paper I will discuss the various policy modalities that affect international trade in ivory. Special attention is given to the capability of states to finance conservation efforts in their countries. Governments with minimal intervention programs for protection of elephant populations face stiffer sanctions in ivory trade because it is conceived as being accommodating to poaching. Poor states have also made a claim for sustainable extraction of ivory. The claim is that by selling ivory in the international market, these countries get the fiscal resource needed to keep animals protected. This claim I will also analyze in this paper.

(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) makes an argument about the sustainable use of wild animal and plant products without adversely affecting the conservation status of that species. This means that, we can ‘harvest’ what we like from endangered species like the elephant. Ivory can be culled from the animal by inducing the animal into unconsciousness then simply cutting it off. By doing this, conservation of the species is achieved because the animal does not die and in the future poachers would not be interested in killing an animal that does not have ivory. Ivory is a valuable commodity of international trade. Ivory is basically extracted from elephants and s in sub-Saharan Africa and sold in the USA, Europe and Far East Asia provides an empirical framework for the protection of endangered species.

In some cases CITES recommendations are not fully implemented because they would affect the national GDP of producing countries. To control ivory and other protected wildlife specimen CITES has propagated the concept of sustainable exploitation of such resources. However, this propagation is fairly recent because from 1989 there was a total ban on ivory trade. In 1997 southern African states with a strong reputation for sustainable management of elephant populations managed to get a reprieve against the total ban. As a result some countries were allowed to sell their cache of ivory to Asian traders. A total ban is effected when a species is listed in Appendix I of CITES. A listing or down-listing to Appendix II allows for sustainable extraction. Research has indicated that the listing of African Elephants in Appendix I has aggravated poaching because it has helped raise the price of ivory.

Environmental Sustainability is a fairly new concept in conservation. Nature, it is said, has its own mechanism to heal itself when it is destructed. This is called the Gaia Hypothesis. However, if the extinction of Dinosaurs is considered, it would be apt to conclude that there are instances when nature just does not recover. If this is true and that human beings are largely responsible for loss of bio diversity in nature, then it follows that man must take some measure to help nature recover from that loss. One way of doing this would be to stop all human actions that adversely affect nature. But this cannot be, because man must be provided for. So we have to devise a sustainable way that will protect nature and protect man, as he too is also part of nature.

The Protected Areas Legislation is one sustainable way to institute environmental sustainability. A protected are is an area that has been set aside to accommodate all wild species, flora and fauna. In most countries these protected areas are called National Parks and Game Reserves and within them human-wildlife conflict can be minimized allowing both to survive amicably. This is a win-win situation but it usually is not the case. As human population rise, so does their need for land and as a result the protected areas have begun to fall under human settlement. Competition for resources has seen the loss of life on either end but more so for the animal side. As a result of shrinking range most wildlife populations dwindle and international trade does not help but worsen the situation somewhat. The most valuable wildlife specimens are being cut down at high rates to supply international demand. Ivory is one such specimen.

The key strength of environmental conservation and Ivory Trade sustainability is obtained from the fact that it is noble to preserve our natural bio diversity. Through conservation efforts, communities can overcome poverty because a naturally flourishing bio system has economic value for local communities if and only if the resources are obtained in a sustainable way. One major weakness of Ivory Trade sustainability is the conflict of policy between international conservation organizations and national governments about the control of trade in collected wildlife specimens continues to have a negative impact on conservation efforts. CITES trade bans on illegally acquired wildlife trade specimens affect the international prices of the specimen positively. When prices go up poachers have more incentive to hunt and kill wildlife.

Another challenge is insufficiency of funds for conservation is a major challenge for conservation especially so for poor developing countries. Another challenge is human population growth and increment of settlement around protected areas. Endangered species moving out of protected areas increases the chance of their extermination and thus this is yet another challenge for conservation. These three challenges when taken together greatly undermine the life expectancy of endangered species. Poor conservation policies and regulations track record mired by corruption and complacency also poses a great challenge to conservation.

In light of this evidence, it has become increasingly important for government as well as conservation organizations to tighten their legislative control on foreign trade in order to protect some endangered species. Bilateral trade agreements between states today is an equal endeavor built on mutual respect for each other. In light of this respect, countries cannot and will not disenfranchise another country of its natural resources and this means illegal trade in ivory must and will be enforced by both states. By doing this the market for ivory is taken away but this goes on to contribute to further high international prices for ivory which earnestly defeats the purpose of conservation.

This is partly why some countries have opted to flood the international market with seized ivory illegally obtained at the hands of poachers. This flooding is expected to reduce the global cost thus taking away the incentive to poach hence saving the elephants population. The selling of the seized ivory in the international market under the CITES framework also helps countries to increase their gross domestic output hence helping them to curtail poverty to some extent.


Abensperg-Traun, Max. "CITES, sustainable use of wild species and incentive-driven conservation in developing countries, with emphasis on southern Africa." Biological Conservation, 2009: 948-963.
Baldus, R.D., and S. Michel. What does CITES mean for an African or Central Asian village? Some experiences from Tanzania and Tajikistan. In 'CITES and CBNRM: Proceedings of an International Symposium on the Relevance of CBNRM to the conservation and Sustainable use of CITES-listed Species . Policy document, UK: IIED, Vienna, Austria: Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, 2011, 51-58.
Harvey, Ross. "Risks and Fallacies Associated with promoting a Legalised Trade in Ivory." Politikon 43, no. 2 (2016): 215-229.
Lusseau, David, & Phyllis C. Lee. "Can we sustainably harvest Ivory?" Current Biology 26, no. 21 (2016): 2951-2956.
Muchingur-Kashiri, O. "The Case for Zimbabwe." Southern African News. Aug 29, 2016.