Do you have questions about the ivory stockpiles that Kenya burned recently? Many think the ivory should have been sold and the money given to anti-poaching or other worthwhile efforts.

After reading opinions by people who work to help save elephants, I know burning the ivory was the best decision. For the most part, the “middlemen” in ivory are terrorists and illegal traffickers. They are the ones who have enough money to buy this stockpile of poached ivory. Once ivory makes its way into a country for commerce, it is nearly impossible to prove its provenance. Selling this ivory to them would have allowed criminals to market their ivory as “legal.”

These same buyers have a monopoly on the ivory market. Based on what I’ve read, the idea that flooding the market with ivory will reduce ivory prices is false. Organized crime can control the prices and manipulate the market. Selling contraband ivory to them simply gives them more inventory. Black market sellers will not lower the price because they have more ivory.

Another reason given for selling the ivory was that the money would help end poaching, but money is not the ultimate solution.  Eliminating retail ivory imports and sales, and increasing pressure with social media campaigns and other strategies are critical to help reduce the demand.

This is also a moral decision. Killing elephants for their tusks and destroying entire ecosystems is wrong. Selling the ivory is tantamount to saying that we support the greedy and immoral actions of poachers, terrorists, and others who profit from killing elephants for their tusks. Our environment is on the verge of collapse. Elephants are sentient beings whose presence is vital to protecting our global environment. They are the “canary in the coalmine.” If they become extinct, a chain of extinctions will follow.  The right conditions for herbivores and predators to thrive will no longer exist. The biology of the bush will lose its diversity and life cycle. An ecological failure in Africa will affect the planet.


Written by Patricia Cole

An Africa Hope Fund board member for 7 years, Pat is a writer and a conservation activist. After traveling to Zambia, she became dedicated to helping Africa Hope Fund provide education to the next generation of Africans and ensure their future by protecting wildlife. Find Patricia on Facebook and Twitter, or on her websites and

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Carol Van Brugen