Despite the news earlier this week that the UK government are discussing a full ivory ban, there are still many other factors at play that are decreasing the populations of elephants in the wild. As well as elephants being slaughtered for their ivory tusks, they are also currently being killed for their skin in other parts of the world.
A record number of Asian elephants are losing their lives to cater for a fashion trend that uses their skin to make jewellery, including bracelets and necklaces, according to recent reports. Monica Wrobel, who is the Head of Conservation at wildlife charity Elephant Family, said, “These elephants were killed to order. The herd were tracked, slaughtered, and every bit of skin taken.”
The skin of the elephant is removed from the body soon after it has been killed, often by a poison dart. The skin is then polished and made into beads that are blood-red in colour, and sold as jewellery pieces for up to £75 each. The cause behind this trend is an Asian belief that these beads can ward off illnesses.
Whilst these elephants are currently being killed in Myanmar, the skin is being smuggled to Xishuangbanna, in South West China, where the demand currently lies. Investigators have also discovered that the bracelets are being sold widely on Chinese websites.
During some investigations this year, up to 66 elephant trunks were seized in just one haul, and demand for the jewellery is simply increasing, meaning that there is a cruel incentive for even more elephants to be killed for their skin. Reports have since claimed that if this terrible trade continues to grow at its current rate, these elephants, which are already endangered, could be facing the brink of extinction within just two years.
Image Credit: Elephant Family / HANDOUT FROM WWF
I am Jess Murray, wildlife conservationist, photographer and writer. Follow my Facebook page and Instagram account to be part of the journey. I like to document the natural world and create awareness through my writing so that your future can be sustainable and positive.