Nothing like a new year to reflect, reboot, recommit and resolve!
From the elephants’ point of view, 2015 was a better year than recent years. While poaching remains at a critical level, with more elephants dying than being born each year, progress was made on a number of fronts. The price of ivory actually declined, while an increase in confiscations took more “product” out of the marketplace. The coincidence of the two may appear counter intuitive (e.g., less product theoretically would raise prices) but perhaps demand for ivory finished products is finally declining and the supply chain just hasn’t caught up with that reality. High profile campaigns by celebrities, NGOs and media outlets seem to have broken through the sound barrier, resulting in major political and policy efforts to shut down the trade in ivory.
Looking back, here are some month-by-month highlights of ivory politics:
January: Release of “The Last Days of Ivory” short film and campaign by award-winning producer Kathryn Bigelow and WildAid
February: China announces a one-year ban on the import of ivory carvings for one year
March: Britain’s Prince William calls for an end to all trade in ivory during a visit to China
April: Singer Billy Joel and the Wildlife Conservation Society release a new video to raise awareness of elephant poaching
September: U.S. and China agree to halt ivory trade
October: California passes ban on ivory sales
Just one year ago, these collective accomplishments would have been unimaginable. However impressive though, they are but a beginning not an end. 2016 is the year to build upon 2015’s achievements and turn “plans” and “intentions” into real, meaningful action. We talked the talk in 2015, now we have to walk the walk in 2016. Put another way, we were given tools in 2015, we must use them in 2016. Happy New Year to all!