Ivory In Africa

1670 Words 7 Pages
The Europeans started colonizing in Africa in the 15th century, and continued to do so until the early 19th century. One of the main reasons Europe did this was to gain access to the abundant and untapped resources there. The growth of some African countries’ economies during that time can be credited to the international trade of those resources. Africa supplied a wide array of resources that were new, and therefore very desirable, to the Europeans. Among these many resources that were exported from the African continent, ivory, the material that elephant tusks are composed of, was one of the most highly demanded. Ivory was used to make piano keys, decorative hair combs, and jewelry. It became a luxury that everyone wanted to have, and it …show more content…
Ivory has little inherent value, but has social and cultural significance. Besides its aesthetic value, ivory is also very durable, doesn’t splinter, and can easily be carved (Rosen). Ivory appears in many cultures mostly as decoration. Ivory is an especially big part of Chinese culture, and according to an article in The Atlantic,“In China. . . artistic ivory carvings exist from as far back as the sixth millennium BCE” (Rosen). Ivory was can be used to make to make many things: art, spear and bow tips, jewelry, decorative combs, chopsticks, buckles, and billiard balls, to name a few. Ivory was a symbol of wealth. Not only was ivory important in Chinese culture in ancient times, it is still a big part of their culture today. According to the aforementioned article, about 70 percent of the illegal ivory that is harvested is sent to China and a pound of it can go for up to one thousand dollars (Rosen). Though we have many other alternatives to ivory that are more practical and efficient, ivory has maintained its status as a symbol of luxury. Elephants and their ivory were also a big part of African culture. Their ivory could be used to make tools and weapons, and their meat could be harvested as well (Reid). Ivory trade was also important to certain African people because ivory was always in demand. According to Andrew Reid, between 1,000 and 1,300 AD “Bambandyanalo was already dominating and controlling trade …show more content…
Liza Gross paints a picture of the sad truth, “Gruesome images of the carnage they left behind -- mutilated corpses sprawled in twisted repose, attended by bereft companions and bewildered orphans -- helped document the precipitous collapse of Africa’s elephant populations” (Gross). Elephants may be killed and then the tusks are cut from them after they are dead, but often the tusks are harvested while they are alive. Keeping the elephant’s alive while harvesting the tusks does not keep them alive. The wounds inflicted on them when their tusks are removed very often get infected, leading to the death of the elephants. The removal of tusks from elephants, whether they are dead or alive, is a vicious practice. Because an elephant will most likely die at the hands of poachers, the harvesting of ivory has caused a massive decrease in elephant

Related Documents