started this petition to
U.S. Fisheries & Wildlife Service Ivory Crush Design Challenge
one person for every elephant LOST to
poaching just last year.
Using the crushed ivory to raise public awareness is as ill informed as whaling for research and offers as much educational output as Orcas in tanks at Sea World. We need to recognize when we have been led astray, and instead of trying to save face and be infallible, admit to our mistakes and overcome them with informed and inclusive solutions
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The Ivory Crush Design Challenge, although well-intentioned, results in moral, ethical, and spiritual ambiguity and even in terms of policy and awareness, the message this strategy sends is inconsistent with our end goal to save elephants. It alludes to an "us" versus "them" paradigm- we can use ivory, but they can't, we can use it this way, but they can't use it that way. This hypocrisy sets up enough ambiguity to seed a loophole for opportunists to exploit.
Would you be comfortable with orbiting a design challenge
around the remains of human victims from any mass murder or act of genocide?
certainly am an advocate for the tireless conservation efforts initiated by the
US Fisheries and Wildlife Service; they do a lot of incredible work, and
without their support a majority of non-profits and field endeavors would not
have the infrastructure or funding to make a difference. It was an honor they
invited me to the Denver Crush in partnership with IFAW, and I was so proud of
their strong stand against Ivory. The Denver Crush set a strong precedent for
other countries to follow suit and crush their stockpiles, so in no way do I
mean any offence to my friends at the USFWS or discredit any of their ongoing
It is only in regards to the Ivory Crush Design Challenge that I
differ in my stance, for no matter the position assumed by the USFWS, the means do not justify the end. SAY NO TO IVORY. SAY NO TO EVERY USE OF IVORY.
Besides giving the crushed ivory new value, which is a
slippery slope, it is thoroughly disrespectful toward the murdered elephants. It
is my sincere hope, my friends at USFWS and AZA (American Zoos and Aquariums)
recognize this, and come together with me and all the people who have signed
this petition to ensure a truly informed wild future for elephants everywhere.
The minute ivory stops being tusks on a live
elephant, and falls into the hands of humanity, either commercially or
as confiscated contraband, it begins to evoke a culture that values and
chooses death over life. Any use of illicit contraband is ignorant and
going to result in other uses of the contraband in other parts of the
world. We cannot control how other nations address this issue, we can
however control what we do with the crushed stockpile here. Cremate it.
Ashes to ashes dust to dust.
I firmly believe that the
ivory should be cremated.
Here's why -- First of all,
mourn their dead
, and living members of a herd recognize the scent of
the remains of poached relatives even 50 years later, from several feet
away, when worn as a
hand-me-down vintage bracelet by a woman having supper in the Kenyan
bush. Secondly, no
matter how hard we try,
we can never turn merciless murder into anything
insightful or evocative,
it is just far too entrenched in bloodshed to
deemed educational. Art can be subjective, but the death
of 35,000 elephants each year cannot be taken subjectively. Most
incinerating it, and allowing the crushed material to be cast into a
or work of any sort will only
create another loophole for other
Instead of disclosing stockpiles, they can claim the entire
was used to create a visual statement piece that allegedly educates and
describes the horrors of the trade, all the while leaking shards back
into the black market. It creates a disastrous
for tusks worldwide
. We cannot control how other countries
and existing buyers will interpret this Challenge, we can only control
how we dispose
remains. Why bother crushing the stockpile, if we are not going to
destroy it completely, as they did in the Philippines? There is no room
for interpretation here, just action. If we had no other alternative, I
would concede to the proposition, but there are plenty of other
materials through which compelling
visual compositions can be generated to educate the public about the
blood ivory trade. I have been running campaigns on this issue for over
now, and I never thought I needed crushed ivory to help drive home the
point to the general public.
The best stand we can take is to afford the same dignity of life and
death to these sentient mammals that we afford to our own kind; ashes to
ashes, dust to dust. This way, as it
would in nature, the animal’s remains end up back in the earth. ”
Can We Do Instead: ( just suggestions, not absolutes)
a conversation with organizers of either a mainstream Art Fair or Burning Man
can help us evolve the theme of next year's Burning Man, Art Basel, Armory or
any other reputed art event to orbit Wildlife Trafficking, particularly the
Bloody Ivory trade. Since the contraband is heavily controlled - as it should
be- perhaps it can be burned in a secure place, and simply televised in
relation to the art event in question. This will help raise awareness and
possibly funding from sales of works that aren’t made with crushed ivory but
still integrate motifs and narratives from this crisis. This will help open up
the issue beyond the core conservation groups in the world and open the doors
on the dialogue.
the ashes could be cast into elephant footprints, in a memorial entitled
"In the Wake of Giants." Filling depressions in the ground with the
ashes of the animals that no longer walk the face of this planet would speak to
the immeasurable loss of sentient life.Every country crushing and cremating
their stockpiles could create these footprints, helping trace the trade route
for this blood stained commodity. This global memorial would also reflect the "divine aspects" of the elephant, with the ashes from the cremation placed at the core of each imprint,
embodying the intangible value of life.
important aspect of this entire undertaking is public education about this
issue, a museum space or gallery alongside the memorial site that portrays
photographs, infographic displays, field data, videos and solutions is vital.
The exhibit should juxtapose the commercial value assigned to one part (tusks)
of a dead elephant against the true value of a live elephant as a keystone species
and constant gardener in the African ecosystem.
do understand that the act of crushing and burning the ivory alone is not
enough. Crushing and/ or burning without policy change and law enforcement
skews the trade in favor of demand and does more harm than good. However that
is not the case here, the USFWS has set up the right steps, by establishing the
moratorium after the crush. The cremation will only further consolidate their
larger focus needs to be on policy, law enforcement, establishing well-trained
anti-poaching troops, and killing the demand in various global consumer
markets. Let us not add one more variable to this equation, one more issue to
the global elephant crisis. By setting up strong principles that empower the
long haul aim to protect wild elephants from further decline, the USFWS can
lead by example, and encourage yet other nations to follow this inclusive and
cohesive way of handling stockpiles in their custody.
I feel rather passionately about this, but it is just one individual's opinion.
I would appreciate it if it will be considered strongly as I find it so
ethically wrong to do anything else with the crushed material. I mean no
offense to anyone, but having been entrenched in this for some time, day in and
day out, I was quite mortified to learn that this could ever result in a public
Moving forward do we want to become a part of the problem or do we want
to serve as role models by shaping an iron clad resolve that leaves only
one use for ivory- as tusks on a live wild elephant?