More on illegal ivory trade: ‘More valuable than gold’

We got some appreciative feedback to our highlighting efforts to stop the illegal trade in rhino and elephant horns, and y’all seemed to get the connection without our having to be explicit: elephant-Ganesha-their roles in Indian history and culture. (I guess I just made it clear.)

So here’s another post, which I guess you could call enforced education on the subject.

This week, wildlife conservation groups are meeting in London to figure out ways to slow down the trade in ivory. (Thus the reason it is popping up in the media.)

NPR had a pretty solid story on Wednesday morning. You can listen at this link, as well as read it (although the audio version is more comprehensive):

A decade ago, fewer than 100 rhinos were killed in a year. Last year, it was more than 1,000, says Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“When you’re talking about something that is more valuable than gold, and it is easily accessible, you’re going to create the atmosphere where people are going to take advantage of that,” he says.


“What we’re seeing now is a massive increase in demand. But this isn’t really for traditional medicine. This is more [for] the growing middle class or upper class in Asia,” says [Jonathan] Bailey [of the Zoological Society of London]. “It’s being used for things like cancer cures or even mixed with cocaine and snorted. … All sorts of crazy things that do absolutely nothing for anybody. It’s just about status.”

Here’s the crux of the problem: “One pound of rhino horn now sells for tens of thousands of dollars.”

Countries, including the U.S., are changing laws to allow only (and even limited) trade and import of antique ivory, meaning pieces that are at least 100 years old (and verifiably so). But, as the NPR story notes, a major problem is that more people, not less, are wanting rhino horns and elephant tusks.

On a completely different topic: Tim Miller’s latest blog, all about love:

Eventually, maybe we will learn to extend this love even to those poor, unenlightened souls who practice other kinds of yoga, and maybe even to those who think that yoga is a cultured milk product, a sex cult, a brainwashing technique, or painful and exotic exercise.

I suppose the post pretty well questions by non-love for Ashtanga. The answer, I guess (as always): Just keep practicing.

Posted by Steve

France destroys tons of ivory as part of international effort to fight illegal trade

This isn’t going to be a happy post. And I suppose it isn’t directly yoga or Ashtanga related.


Sunday morning we heard a report on NPR about France destroying millions of dollars worth of ivory confiscated over the past few decades.

Link to the NPR report is right here. And the Telegraph has additional details:

More than three tons of ivory worth around €6 million (£5m) were on Thursday pulverised yards from the Eiffel Tower in a public display of France’s commitment to an international crackdown on the illegal trade ahead of a key London summit.

Huge elephant tusks, some sculpted, were passed along a chain of French customs agents who dropped them onto a conveyer belt before they were crushed to tiny pieces in the first such public exercise in Europe.

The destruction of the ivory, from a stockpile confiscated over two decades, was designed to send a strong message to poachers and traffickers that preservationists hope will help stem the illicit trade that is threatening the elephants’ survival. The French action followed similar recent moves in America, Gabon and China, ivory’s biggest market.


In 2012, an estimated 22,000 African elephants were poached for their tusks, with the market price of ivory estimated to have doubled in the past five years to reach around £1,500 per kilogramme.

Elephant ivory and rhino horn can be worth more than illegal diamonds or gold, and the proceeds have used by rebel groups in African countries, such as al-Shabaab in Somalia and the Lords resistance army in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Prices have been rising since 2009, driven by demand in China, where the profits have attracted attention from criminal syndicates. But in a sign it is finally cracking down on the illegal trade, China publicly destroyed six tons of ivory last month while Hong Kong also announced its intention to destroy 28 tons of confiscated ivory starting this Spring.

The story goes on to point out why some people oppose the destruction of this ivory: It lowers existing supplies and thus increases the price, they say. And that is just more reason for poachers to continue killing elephants for their tusks.

The answer? Make it so no one wants ivory any more. The problem: That isn’t easy.

Posted by Steve