My granddaughter, who is six years old asked me why I get so upset with people selling ‘elephants teeth’ as she calls them. I sat her down and told her that sometimes an elephant’s tusk will break off, and that is acceptable, but there are people who kill these big majestic creatures for their tusks: and that is unacceptable. She asked why they would do that and I told her that they do it for money. With little worry lines creasing between her eyes, she looked long and hard at me, ‘why don’t they get a job like you and grampie, and mummy and daddy?’ Good question, and too complicated to explain to a six year old. However, it did get me thinking. How ignorant or misinformed are people about ivory tusks?
After a bit of delving, I found out that 40% of the ivory market is going into China. I wondered if Chinese people were aware of the dreadful atrocities committed to satisfy their need for trinkets and jewelry. Xiang ya means ivory tusks or ‘elephants teeth’, a lovely roll off your tongue word and depending on the context in which it is used, it can be a word that means a death sentence for an elephant. After a survey conducted in 2007, 70% of Chinese people taking part in the poll claimed that they had no idea that elephants were slaughtered for their xiang ya. The IFAW embarked on a graphic advertising campaign to raise awareness on what happens to the elephants…in order for them, the consumers to buy the product. A retired NBA star and Chinese icon, Yao Ming, in conjunction with WildAid, Save the Elephants, African Wildlife Foundation and the Yao Ming Foundation has been taking an active part in promoting this awareness, trying to deter the hunger for ivory. Have a look at his video link.. his twelve day fact finding mission in Kenya and South Africa.
Yao Ming is a large voice. I decided that every little voice, no matter how small, also counts. My granddaughter tells me that I need to tell all her friends about what is happening to the elephants…and that she thinks I can make a difference, and that is what I plan to do.