The word elephant comes from the Greek language for ivory. Elephants were hunted for their ivory before Egyptian King Tutankhamun, in power during the middle of the 12th century, was buried in a casket with 45,000 pieces of inlaid ivory. 

Big game hunting was a significant part of the British Empire and other country’s colonization of Africa in the 1800s. In 1909, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt shot eleven elephants on his African safari to collect specimens for the Smithsonian Institute. Books written about Africa during that time are about trophy hunting, killing the biggest and the best to take home an animal head or skin, or in the case of elephants, its legs to use for umbrella stands.

Today elephant ivory is used for art carving, trinkets, trophies, and jewelry. Small wonder elephants are so perilously close to being no more than a memory, something our children will see only in photographs or read about in books.


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