The Economics of the Illicit Ivory Trade

The Economics of the Illicit Ivory Trade

Explore the issues of supply and demand that fuel the illegal trade in ivory, and go undercover to learn about the rising prices of black-market ivory.

Grades

7 - 12+

Subjects

Geography

Illegal trade in animal parts is a global problem that's signaling the extinction for many endangered species. Experts estimate that about 25,000 elephants were killed last year alone, for their ivory tusks. The driving economic forces that facilitate the illicit trade are supply and demand.

In this short video, we travel to China, where investigative journalist Bryan Christy explains how a longstanding tradition of carving ivory, combined with a booming middle class, is fueling demand for ivory. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) reports that nearly all of the current demand for elephant ivory comes from the Chinese market. The International Fund for Animal Welfare estimates that 84 percent of the ivory sold in China is illegal.

Then, in east Africa, we follow investigative journalist Aidan Hartley as he goes undercover to learn first-hand about the rising prices of black market ivory. Using specialty cameras to infiltrate the criminal network, Aidan documents the illegal supply leaving Africa.

This video was produced to accompany the National Geographic film Battle for the Elephants, which explores the history of and economics behind the brutal slaughter of African elephants for their tusks.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Writer
Elaine Larson, National Geographic Society
Editor
National Geographic Society
Producer
J.J. Kelley
other
Last Updated

September 27, 2022

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact ngimagecollection@natgeo.com for more information and to obtain a license. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. She or he will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.

Media

If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.

Text

Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.

Interactives

Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources