Author Topic: Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching  (Read 3991 times)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2096
    • Add me to your facebook!
Talk about irony of ironies - that the demand for ivory is driven by supposed Buddhists! Of course China is the villain and it's all about demand and supply. Ideally if demand stops, the supply will stop too. We may not be able to stop the voracious demand in China, which is a planet on its own and not subject to any kind of international pressure, but if we can stop the supply, perhaps it's a start.

Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching

The massacre of wild African elephants for the illegal ivory trade continues virtually unabated, according to a study released this week by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Poachers killed about 22,000 elephants in 2012, and the already decimated population would decline by 20 percent over the next decade at current rates, the study says. One of the main reasons cited for the elephant slaughter is “rising demand for illegal ivory in consuming nations.” What the study does not explicitly say, however, is that many of these consumers are at least nominally Buddhist, purchasing carved ivory figurines and amulets in Asian markets.

A major exposé published last year in National Geographic — “Ivory Worship” — highlighted Thailand and especially populous China as the two major ivory-consuming nations:

“By all accounts, China is the world’s greatest villain when it comes to smuggled ivory. In recent years China has been implicated in more large-scale ivory seizures than any other non-African country. For the first time in generations many Chinese can afford to reach forward into a wealthy future, and they can also afford to look back into their own vibrant past. One of the first places many look is religion…

“On the corner of one of the most popular ivory-selling streets in China, outside the Hualin International Buddhist jewelry arcade, a four-story electronic billboard runs a video announcing to passersby a hot new investment opportunity: Sales of Buddhist jewelry and related religious products have reached $15.8 billion a year and are growing by 50 percent a year. ‘There are nearly 200 million Buddhism believers in China,’ the sign declares. Inside the building two stores deal exclusively in ivory carvings. Down the street other galleries offer Buddhist ivory carvings — some legal, some not.”

The elephant has long been a symbol for the Buddha. His mother, Queen Maya, dreamed of a six-tusked white elephant, holding a lotus in its trunk, entering her body the night he was conceived. In the Bull Elephant Sutta, the Buddha is served by an elephant while living alone in the forest, and comments favorably on how each delights in the solitary life. In another story, the Buddha subdues the intoxicated, rampaging elephant Nalagiri simply by the power of radiating loving-kindness. Taming a wild elephant is a common simile for the mental calm achieved by meditation.

Understanding the positive significance of the elephant in Buddhist culture, the World Wildlife Fund, when meeting with CITES delegates in Bangkok earlier this year, engaged Thai Buddhist leaders to conduct a special blessing ceremony for the poached elephants. According to the WWF report, “They also called on their congregations and other temples to reject the use and trade of ivory.”

Just before that summit, Sri Lanka came under strong criticism for donating a seized shipment of illegal ivory to a Buddhist temple.

With demand for ivory so high, there is clearly much more to be done by the Asian Buddhist leadership to advocate against purchasing ivory, even if it’s said to be “clean” (from stock that predates the 1990 CITES ban on international trade). Seen through a karmic lens, they could help their followers understand not only the brutal ways the elephants are killed (baiting with cyanide-laced watermelons is one example), often leaving orphaned babies, but also how the extremely lucrative trade directly funds criminal gangs, with ivory even traded for weapons to arm some of Africa’s most notoriously violent militias, such as Joseph Kony’s LRA.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

Kim Hyun Jae

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 304
    • Email
Re: Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 03:07:24 PM »
Ivory had been used by ancient civilizations like Roman, Greeks, China, Cambodia, Burma and so on and are highly prized for their value and beautiful carving and practical uses like official seals, daggers or opium pipes. The decline of the supply of ivory declined by 50% since 1980s due to the decline of African elephants.

"There is a more recent sale in 2008 of 108 tonnes from the three countries (Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana) and South Africa took place to Japan and China. The inclusion of China as an "approved" importing country created enormous controversy, despite being supported by CITES, the World Wide Fund for Nature and Traffic. They argued that China had controls in place and the sale might depress prices."

There seem to be continuous demand (illegally) coming from China and Japan where collector will pay high prices for these tusks. Although there is laws governing the ban of murdering these elephants, collector will resort to anything to get them. How pitiful.

Freyr Aesiragnorak

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
Re: Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 01:46:36 PM »
In countries where there is growth of demand for ivory, such as China, among the so called "Buddhist" populous there needs to be more education and emphasis placed among the detrimental effects of ivory poaching. These so-called Buddhists, however, seem nothing more than people wanting prized or expensive trinkets that give have supposed spiritual power or significance. they are nothing more than Buddhists for namesake only. It is horrific that the word Buddhist can even be linked to this, even is 'so-called Buddhist,' as this goes against one of the foundational practices of the faith and that is Ahimsa (non-violence)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1055
Re: Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2013, 02:49:29 PM »
In a newly affluent China, owning ivory is seen by many as a sign of status. It’s described as “white gold”, both an object of desire and an investment vehicle. The Chinese word for ivory literally translates to “elephant’s teeth”, which aids the misconception that tusks can fall out naturally. As many as 70 per cent of Chinese shoppers do not realize elephants must die to provide ivory.

A campaign to raise awareness about where ivory really comes from is very important and shoppers must be educated on this and the sufferings of the elephants before they consider owning ivory.
There are many ongoing campaigns to save the elephants. Check out one of this:


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 502
Re: Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 05:17:01 PM »
It is definitely not a Buddhist practice to kill animals. Educating the public is very important if we want people to stop buying ivory. Just like how there was a worldwide movement to stop eating sharks fin more than a decade ago, the demand of sharks fin has decreased dramatically until the Chinese, with their new found wealth, started demanding for it.

So again, it is important to do mass awareness campaigns to show the pain and sufferings of poaching for elephant tusks especially in China and Japan where demand in these countries are the highest.

Below is a video report on ivory poaching.

Shocking pictures: Elephants slaughtered by poachers in Kenya] [url=]Shocking pictures: Elephants slaughtered by poachers in Kenya [/url]


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 816
Re: Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2013, 08:32:07 AM »
It takes the cooperation of everyone concerned to effectively put an end to the elephant poaching.  Governments and NGOs like CITES play important roles to educate and inform the public at all levels about the effect of killing elephants for the supply of ivory. Laws must be enforced to punish the illegal poachers, businesses or individuals involved in the trading of products made of ivory.  These include the consumers who have created the demand in the first place!  However in reality it is difficult to enforce this!  Can all products made of ivory be banned?  That includes images of Buddhas made of ivory!  Buddhists are well aware of the Law of Cause and Effect and hence the effect of killing elephants.  Buddhists must avoid altogether the creation of products made of ivory and stop the elephant poaching.

metta girl

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 79
Re: Demand for ivory by Buddhists a factor in unabated elephant poaching
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2013, 02:14:00 PM »
If the demand decrease the supply will decrease too.  Because of greed , humans will go to the extend to hurt another living beings for their own benefits. Not only elephants are the victim to human greed , the Rhinoceros is also a victim , for their horns are used as medicinal purposes ,.was believed to cure cancer,fevers and liver problems in tradisional chinese medicine.Rhinos poachers usually saw off the rhinos' horns while they are still alive, leaving them bleed to death. Killing another sentient being to cure our illness is really unreasonable and unacceptable.