Threat to elephant population owning to escalated value of ivory

As a result of the ivory trade ban imposed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), rise in the global price of ivory has escalated substantially since 1989. In a first-time study of the University of Bristol Veterinary School, the researchers draw special attention to the global market values of ivory as an after effect to the ban.

According to reports, greater the market price of ivory, higher is the poaching incentive, which thus also leads to increasing number of elephant killings. Furthermore, the researchers conclude that although there is a ban on ivory, poaching along with illegal trade has not decreased the suffering of elephants. This phenomenon will thus cause an eight percent loss in the world’s population of elephant every year.

For the study, researchers examined an expansive dataset of ivory pieces from the period of 1989 to 2017. Along with the help of literature searches and numerous visits to ivory market across regions of Asia, Europe and Africa, information regarding ivory product type were obtained. Scientists could thus study the weight, region, legality and product type of the ivory, whether it is carved, raw or polished. These findings also helped in identifying factors that augmented the ivory prices.

It was observed that the ivory prices since the ban had increased invariably. The Asian markets had the highest prices, whereas the African market had the lowest. Moreover, researchers were able to draw a global average price of the ivory, which had increased tenfold between the study periods of 1989 to 2014, which also seem to gradually decline.

“With poachers killing an estimated 100 elephants of the remaining 350,000 each day, we believe our findings are significant to global wildlife conservation policy-making.

“Until now, very little has been known about global ivory prices since the international ban in 1989. We hope that a greater understanding of the factors that drive the price of ivory will lead to better informed policy interventions that lead to a more secure future for the long-term survival of elephants and other animals that suffer due to the ivory trade,” according to Monique Sosnowski, the lead author of Bristol Veterinary School.

Through the research, the team hopes that the trends and variables would thus further help to determine the prices and also help improve decisions with respect to global ivory policies. Together with the knowledge of the regional price trends, understanding of demand and factors that influence the market price, it will be beneficial to law enforcement, policy makers, in addition to conservationists. Futuristic approach to subjects like anti-trade campaigns, education and wildlife conservation would also be possible through the research.

Future study will include inclusion of bio economic models and modification of existing models with regards to regional and historical price trends which will improve accuracy and global stimulation in order to develop effective policy design. This will furthermore also be applied to other endangered species who face poaching and sale of illegal products, in order to achieve coordinated conservation efforts, for tigers and rhinos for instance.