With about 35,000 to 50,000 African elephants succumbing to poachers each year, it’s difficult to not realize the tragedy that is the ivory trade. Though many individuals are under the impression that the United States has no influence on the illegal trade of products made from elephant tusks, the truth of the matter is that we as a nation are the second largest market for ivory.
Addressing this issue, Jon Stewart poked a little fun at the ignorance of our country’s markets in his segment “Tusky Business.” In the segment, Stewart mentions that “Our insatiable hunger for ivory trinkets is having a catastrophic effect on the ivory’s original owners.”
More elephants are killed each year than are being born meaning the species is quickly vanishing.
“It’s clear we’ve got two options people,” says Stewart. “Either we as humans can decrease our consumption of ivory by no longer buying trinkets we don’t even need or elephants can lose this two year gestation thing and start shooting out pups like a t-shirt cannon.”
All jokes aside, Stewart warns that humans tend to only save things that benefit us in some way. He then touches on an interesting and often overlooked result of the ivory trade. According to New Scientist, ivory poaching is actually funding most war and terrorism throughout Africa. Since ivory is so expensive (about $3000 for 2 pounds of ivory), most weapons are bought with money gained from ivory sales.
Stewart then throws some shade at the NRA for opposing the proposal to make ivory owners (specifically those who own ivory guns) criminals in the United States. The NRA supports the ownership of these guns as they are often considered “antiques” if over the age of 100 years.
Though Stewart’s segment definitely has it’s “haha” moments, he is certainly using his comedic talents to help highlight an issue that is truly no joking matter … the plight of elephants is the result of human greed.