Corruption and poverty make Africa an ideal haven for the bloody trade in elephant tusks. Looking at these maps one might get the impression that everyone is in on it. It certainly involves the entire spectrum of African society, from corrupt businessmen and government officials to people so poor they use primitive spears to bring down elephants. Be it legal or not, as long as there is demand for ivory, this graphic portrayal is unlikely to change.






All maps created by Riccardo Pravettoni,



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  • Jac7

    Every single day I wonder what I could do. It feels so hopeless knowing there are so many people involved with the ivory trade. Poverty breeds a kind of desperation and lack of sympathy I cannot understand. Wealth creates a strange godlike perception among a corrupted few. When these two are brought together to do business, all the innocent things suffer.

    • CrissCross

      Pointing at those in poverty and desperation is not pointing at the Ivory problem. Those who would take advantage of the poverty, exploiting the desperation to serve their own greed is where the problem lies.

      Poverty doesn’t kill elephants, greed and ruthless exploitation does. Poverty & desperation simply provides a populace who can be easily manipulated into complicity.

      Solving poverty would certainly help those in dire need, and would certainly provide a greater challenge to those who would extract ivory, but all it will achieve with respect to ivory is change who carries out the slaughter. The true exploiters would simply adapt and find an alternative methodology, probably more corrupt and immoral, to extract what they perceive as a quick route to their money bags.

      Eradicating the slaughter by the desperates, would raise the black market price of ivory in the medium term, elevating the profitability and thereby motivating more cunning and devious on the demand side. With higher profits the takers have access to the financial resources required to engineer more sophisticated and stealthy ways of stealing the resource they want.

      Blaming Africa for the theft of their own ivory resources is like blaming the householder who cant afford security systems for the home invasion & theft of their property.
      Stealing the resources of others is criminal in every human society. China, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam & The Philippines are aiding and abetting the crime. The negligence of and in the governance of those regions squarely places liability on them.

      • Jac7

        I didn’t mean to come across as disrespectful. What I meant to say is that I’m fortunate and blessed on so many levels. I can’t comprehend how poverty truly affects those at the bottom of the barrel. Yes, I’ve seen it. Every person living in Africa has seen poverty on some scale. In short, I cannot imagine how desperate an individual must be to risk prison or death to do these things.