This 30-year-old elephant wandered into the Bumi Hills Safari Lounge in Kariba, Zimbabwe. The hotel manager, Nick Milne, realized that the elephant was injured. Ben was walking with a limp and appeared to have other injuries. So Milne immediately called a vet for help.
The vet and his team also found two bullet holes in his ears from a previous poacher attack. It’s crazy to think that Ben was almost killed by humans twice, but still trusted them enough to ask them for help.
Elephant’s tusks are the main source of ivory, though it is also taken from walrus tusks and the narwhal. What is even more barbaric about the practice is that the animal is murdered solely for their tusks, and the rest of the body is discarded.
In 1979 there were about 1.3 million African elephants. Ten years later, that number dropped by half to 600,000. With the alarming rate with which the elephant population was decreasing, a ban on ivory was put in place in 1989 by the UN, more specifically The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Ivory is used to make several ornamental pieces and sculptures, as well as jewelry and trinkets. It is also used to make piano keys. But the piano man himself, Billy Joel, has something to say about that:
“I realize that ivory piano keys are preferred by some pianists. But a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day. There are other materials which can be substituted for piano keys. But magnificent creatures like these can never be replaced. Music must never be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species. Music should be a celebration of life - not an instrument of death.”
Despite the ban on ivory, the illegal trade is still in full swing. Just between October 2012 and January 2013, over 12 tons of ivory was seized. Between 2009 and 2014, over 170 tons of ivory was trafficked illegally. It is estimated that 30,000 to 35,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year. That is almost 100 elephants murdered every day.