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7 things you need to know about the ivory trade

Elephants are amazing, beautiful creatures. This is something I’ve always felt deep inside my heart, but I never truly understood it until I spent some time bringing animal Reiki to rescued circus elephants at a preserve. Wow! My life was forever changed, and I continue to be in awe of these magnificent pachyderms.

But the world’s elephants are in desperate need of saving. Despite the ban on international trade in ivory, a thriving black market worth an estimated $19 billion continues to exist. Here are seven startling facts about the ivory trade, along with some examples of what is being done right to help save the elephants:

1. Craigslist has become a safe haven of sorts for ivory products. A March 2015 report conducted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) found that a heart-stopping $15 million worth of ivory objects are sold on the site each year. Though Craigslist states online it does indeed “ban” the sale of ivory products, one wonders whether the site should do more to enforce it. Feel compelled to take action? The IFAW offers this convenient template so you can send a letter of concern directly to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster.

2. Slash (love him!) has entered the fray to help IFAW save the elephants from slaughter. He co-wrote a song and made a powerful video to educate people about the brutal realities of poaching. It’s a difficult but important video to watch, and I applaud Slash, a self-professed animal lover, for bringing attention to this important topic! Proceeds from the sale of this song are donated directly to IFAW.

3. The National Rifle Association (NRA) opposes President Obama’s proposed ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory in the U.S. As stated on the NRA’s website, “the effects of the ivory ban would be disastrous for American gun owners and sportsmen.” I guess I’m not surprised the NRA feels gun ornamentation is more important than animals’ lives.

4. This sobering stat: The United States is the world’s second-largest consumer of ivory (second to China).

5. New Jersey, New York and Vermont are among the states leading the way to prohibit interstate ivory sales. Click here for more details on citizen-driven grassroots efforts spurring various states to act. Make sure to scroll down to see National Geographic’s handy graphic showing just how well your state stacks up.

6. A powerful new documentary funded in part by Microsoft’s Paul Allen will highlight the poaching/trafficking crisis. Called “Ivory Rising,” the film will feature undercover footage, aim to educate viewers about how the ivory trade connects to terrorism, and hopefully help shut down the ivory trade and save African elephants from extinction.

7. Ninety-six elephants are killed by poachers every day in Africa. Take a moment to let that number sink in. Then visit the 96 Elephants website for info on how you can help stop it.

Please share your thoughts here about this important issue.

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