Elephants are being illegally killed across Africa at the highest rates in a decade, and the global religious market for ivory is a driving force. “Blood Ivory,” the cover story in the October issue of National Geographic, offers the first in-depth investigation of this untold story.
While it’s impossible to say exactly how many elephants are slaughtered annually, a conservative estimate for 2011 is more than 25,000. And thousands of those are dying to satisfy religious devotion, their tusks smuggled into countries to be carved into religious artifacts: ivory baby Jesuses and saints for Catholics in the Philippines, Islamic prayer beads for Muslims and Coptic crosses for Christians in Egypt, amulets and carvings for Buddhists in Thailand, and in China—the world’s biggest ivory-consumer country—elaborate Buddhist and Taoist carvings for investors.
Source: National Geographic