fresh no ads
Just say no to ivory |

Pet Life

Just say no to ivory

DOG DAZE - Kathy Moran - The Philippine Star

Africa’s elephants are under siege. Since 2006, the poaching of elephants has escalated to the highest levels in decades. Every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory. At this rate, some conservationists predict that elephants will be extinct in little over a decade. And this is what the Let Elephants Be Elephants (LEBE) project aims to stop. 

United by a common desire to leave a better world for their children, Nadya and her LEBE co-founder, elephant expert and best-selling author Dr. Tammie Matson, were in Manila recently to help Filipinos learn more about the wilds of Africa and the back alleys of Asia which they visited in their search for an answer to the question: Why are the world’s elephants disappearing?

Recent studies suggest that many people do not know that ivory comes from poached elephants, and that elephants have to be killed for it. Targeted advertising has been shown to change consumer behavior, with 70 percent of people surveyed saying they wouldn’t buy ivory once they knew the truth about how it is produced. 

Dr. Tammie Matson sheds light on the cruelty to the elephants of the ivory trade.

PHILIPPINE STAR:  How have the Filipinos responded to your message on the elephants?

TAMMIE MATSON: The Philippines has been extremely warm and welcoming — and also very compassionate. What’s interesting is how engaged and interested people we speak to are in this issue, even though there aren’t any elephants here in the Philippines anymore, and haven’t been for thousands of years. One of the challenges we face is connecting people in Southeast Asia with the poaching of elephants in Africa, because it seems so far away, and people must think to themselves, what’s a problem like that got to do with me? The truth is that the world is going to lose one of its most iconic species in little over a decade at current rates of poaching, 30,000 a year in Africa, — and it’s because of demand for ivory coming from increasingly wealthy nations in Asia. This is a global problem and we all have to work together to solve it.

I visited your website and I noticed you mentioned that the ivory trade is big in Thailand and in Asia. Tell us more about this. Is it because there are many icons that are made of ivory?

Thailand is the largest unregulated market for ivory worldwide and many Southeast Asian countries are transit countries for ivory. That is to say, ivory is illegally transported through these countries before it reaches its end point, major consumer countries like Thailand and China. The vast majority of illegal ivory ends up in China, but there are also significant levels of consumption in some Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines where ivory is carved into religious artefacts. In Thailand, it’s jewelry and ornaments, often Chinese and Thai spiritual/religious style. In Thailand you can go to the public tourist markets and see huge amounts of ivory on sale. It’s really shocking that it’s so blatant, especially when you know the truth behind where it comes from.

The sellers say it’s legal ivory because they say it comes from Thai domestic elephants, which it is legal to sell the ivory of in Thailand, but much of it is illegal ivory coming in from Africa. It’s very hard at face value, if not impossible without genetic testing, to tell the difference between Asian and African ivory. So there are legal loopholes that the Thai government is trying to fix in order to truly protect elephants worldwide. In central Africa two thirds of the forest elephants have gone extinct in the last decade, so this is happening very fast.

Our children may not see elephants in the wild in little over a decade. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were poached for ivory, a recent study found, and there are less than half a million left.

The purpose of your visit here is to get people to pledge against using or buying ivory? Were the people you spoke to here aware of just how damaging to the elephants and their families the purchase of ivory is?

Everywhere we go, including here, people tell us they don’t know about this problem. From hotel managers to students and taxi drivers, people in Asia just don’t know that wild elephants in Africa have to be brutally killed, their faces hacked off, sometimes while they’re still alive, to get the ivory that we see for sale in Asia. When you tell them, generally people have real compassion and say they wouldn’t buy ivory now that they know. And that’s really encouraging, because it shows that awareness campaigns like “Let Elephants Be Elephants” (LEBE) can have a real impact by changing people’s views and behaviors.

Aside from a pledge not to buy ivory, how else can we help you?

After people take the pledge to not buy ivory at they can share the videos on our site. There is a wealth of video, photographic and factual information on our website that can be shared on Facebook. So spread the word and help save elephants worldwide by making sure everyone you know never buys ivory.

How or when will you know that your crusade has made a difference for the elephants you are helping?

The day that there is no more ivory for sale in Asia will be a day worth celebrating because that’s one tangible way we’ll know that our campaign has had some impact. Today, the rate of poaching is seven percent, and the rate of natural population growth is five percent, so we’ve passed the tipping point for elephants in Africa, and from here on it’s all downhill if things don’t change. If we can stop the demand by making people aware of where ivory comes from, and ivory becomes stigmatized in Asia the way it did in the 1980s and 1990s in previous ivory markets of the US and Europe, then we really have a chance to turn this around. The future of elephants depends on it.

* * * 

LEBE campaign urges the public to be conscious of the unlawful poaching of elephants, and participate in this movement to stop the demand for ivory by pledging their commitment to saying no to ivory on the website and sharing the videos on the website on their social networks.

Follow LEBE on

vuukle comment









Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with