Every Tusk Costs a Life; Stop the Trading and the Buying

  • The conservation charity ElephantVoices has launched a campaign on two powerful pieces of graphic art by New York artist, Asher Jay. The artworks, with the slogans, “Every Tusk Costs a Life; Don’t Buy Ivory” and “Every Tusk Costs a Life; Stop the Trade” target potential buyers and decision-makers, and are also specifically directed toward a Chinese audience. China is believed to be the largest market for illegal ivory, a trade which is causing the poaching of more than 2,000 wild elephants per month. ElephantVoices founders Joyce Poole and Petter Granli sent us this post:

It is with a feeling of déjà vu and deep sorrow, though little surprise, that we find ourselves living through, and battling against, another elephant massacre. Our lack of surprise relates to the torpedoing of the 1989 ivory trade ban by legalized sales from stockpiles. The demand for ivory is not static—it can be massive or small depending on the market environment we provide. The controversial one-off sales simply gave the wrong signals to potential buyers and to the whole chain of people involved in the destructive business of elephant poaching.

Those arguing (again) for a “sustainable trade” in ivory ignore the principles of population biology associated with long-lived species like elephants, and they overlook the corruption and (lack of) ethics associated with their exploitation.

The way to stop this carnage is to make the trading and buying of ivory a serious crime and to create a stigma around wearing and displaying ivory. To stop the senseless killing of tens of thousands of elephants each year, we must let the full force of international and national laws and attitudes make it risky and shameful to buy, trade, and supply ivory.

It shouldn’t be impossible—if we stop sending mixed messages. And we need Asian governments, and China in particular, on board. Everyone needs to know that behind each new tusk on the market is another death and more destruction. We need top educate the people in question through public awareness, and there needs to be efficient law enforcement carried out by the countries of principal demand. We can only reduce the trade NOW with targeted government intervention, both in countries representing demand and supply.

We need your help to reach decision makers and potential buyers. To make the campaign described in our press release go viral, we are trying something a little different. To find out, read on!

Please help us end the massacre of the elephants!

Joyce and Petter



“We are asking people to help us reach out to potential buyers of ivory who don’t realize that elephants are dying in record-high numbers for trinkets and decorations. The only way to stop this wanton slaughter of elephants is to choke demand for ivory and stop the trade,” states Joyce Poole in an ElephantVoices news release accompanying the release of this poster. “ElephantVoices is doing something unique by making the graphic art available online in several versions, so they can be shared on social networks and be used for T-shirts, bumper-stickers, posters and banners”, says Executive Director, Petter Granli.

“We urge people to share these messages far and wide, making them go viral. The poaching is endangering elephants, jeopardizing biodiversity, and threatening tourism, people’s livelihoods and stability in elephant range states. The writing is on the wall for elephants and we must act now”, Poole says in the statement.

Read the ElephantVoices News Release

Download and share the Asher Jay artworks




  1. Joyce Poole
    Loita Forest
    March 1, 2013, 3:00 am

    Thank you Rudi. We need political will here in this remote and beautiful corner of Kenya, too. Without it we stand to lose the ancient elephant trails connecting the forest with the Mara-Serengeti plains. The Loita Forest without elephants will no longer be the Loita Forest. Between land grabbing and poaching the job is tough going. But the alternative to painful to contemplate.

  2. Trish
    February 28, 2013, 1:02 am

    The solution is to join global forces and boycott Chinese made goods. We gave them the financial power to pay off the poachers and officials for the continued slaughtering of these beautiful, defenseless animals.


  3. Rudi van Aarde
    Pretoria, South Africa
    February 27, 2013, 7:28 am

    All that you say and do make sense. This time, however, we need political will to make a difference. Without that we stand to loose Africa, simply because Africa without elephants will no longer be Africa

  4. Sandra Breeding
    Johnson City Tennessee
    February 22, 2013, 10:22 am

    I applaud your efforts. It is important to let people everywhere know how we can help!

  5. Jacqueline Simone Ambose
    Maui Hawaii
    February 21, 2013, 2:56 am

    I grew up in Tanzania (1949-1970) & when it was still Tanganyika. Wildlife was still plentiful. When I returned in 2003 for the first time since I left I was stunned to see so many people & less wildlife.
    The photo (taken by my brother) on my FB cover shows an abundance of elephants. I now live very far away on the other side of the world on a small island, but am still connected thanks to FB! I applaud your efforts & sign all the petitions on Facebook.

  6. Joyce Poole
    February 21, 2013, 12:46 am

    You can access and download the media files via this link:

    Thank you for sharing and joining!