Calvary and Ivory – Catholicism and Pachyderm Teeth

Apparently one of the “least publicized and seemingly most easily correctable drivers of the massive elephant slaughter now taking place across Africa” is religion. A lot of religion seems to use ivory in the production of holy goods.

Now this includes both legal and illegal ivory, a lot of cultures use it in particular the Vatican, it is believed that a stance against Ivory both legal or otherwise would drop the demand for ivory and save a few elephants. Check out Bryan Christy’s “Ivory Worship” article if you want to read more about it.

I agree with a lot of things in the original article, if we do cut out the demand for even legal ivory we could help alleviate the demand and stop the fetish of the teeth of elephants.

A lot of the usage of Ivory is symbolic and it is honestly elephant teeth, I am sure we can use cow or camel which are infinitely more common and whose bones are a by product of our meat consumption for the same purpose. I am sure unless you are some sort of elephant biologist, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

I am a firm believer of utilising all of an animal when you kill it and honestly? We can do better than kill elephants just for two massive teeth. We have cows whose bones are often wasted or broken down for calcium. If the ivory market is that massive we can use that as a substitute.

Many cultures already use camel and cow bone as a substitute for ivory, so why not the Church?

There is a petition on the National Geographic link at the top. Go show your love for the big grey beasties.


  1. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    A lot of these “industries” do rely on momentum and acceptance that this is “just the way things are”. Diamond mining and dealing is another that causes human casualties. No way are diamonds worth what they are priced, even without the artificial “scarcity” created the market hoarders. It shouldn’t even be economically viable to operate some of the mines.

    These materials fetishes plus BS business economics and acceptance of the status quo are doom to many things and beings, including elephants.

  2. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    @ F —

    Another thing that drives the worst abuses of the diamond-mining industry is the idea (pushed hard by the mined-diamond industry) that it’s not a “real” diamond if it’s produced by machine instead of geology. Isn’t that exactly the sort of thing that machines were supposed to do for us, though? Replace the most miserable forms of labor? And yet somehow people feel that their diamonds (and really, diamonds can be absolutely spectacular) aren’t “real” unless there was massive suffering (with environmental destruction the cherry on the fail sundae) involved in its production? Engineering gem-quality diamonds is no mean feat — but can’t we just hold off on buying little bits of crystalline carbon until we can get something a bit less blood-soaked?

  3. says

    I recently bought a skull from to use as a photography prop. It’s a drybrushed and painted resin casting and it looks so much like the real thing I find myself handling it extremely carefully. Which is funny, because it’s poly/epoxy resin and is probably pretty near unbreakable. For under $100 it’s a reproduction so good that it would fool 95% of the people who see it and 75% of the people who hold it.

    There is no excuse to kill animals for their tusks when we have all these wonderful cost-effective polyurethane materials at our disposal.

  4. says

    My point: that resin skull saved me having to cull some poor bastard in an alleyway so I could have my photography prop. It’s amazing what they can do with plastics nowadays.

  5. says

    I know a knife-maker who uses petrified mastodon tusk for handle slabs. The pope could probably afford one of his knives, come to think of it, but I sure as hell couldn’t. But it’s a pretty brilliant way of tackling that problem and it’s even rarer than ivory and therefore cooler to people who think stuff like that’s cool.

    Again, you could make those slabs with aramid fiber filled resin, and 99% of us wouldn’t be able to tell them from sliced mammoth tusk, other than that they’d be unbreakable and awesomely practical and a fraction of the price.

    All this makes me think “what is the value of a thing?” Sometimes, it seems like a form of collective insanity that we value the badger’s fur more than the badger. I admit, I am biased towards badgers.

  6. bradleybetts says

    the NG article is great. There’s the predicatble twerps on there moaning about how the article “pins it on the Catholic Church”, and banging on about “ignorance” and “respect for people’s beliefs” and “I’m not here to argue, just to enlighten”… without a shred of evidence to refute the content of the article.

    It is so sad to see this article posted on NG and to see how horrible people could talk about the catholic church. People have no respect for others belief and with a great ignorance talk without knowing truly what the catholic church teachings are. so much ignorance from Oliver Payne who seem to believe that he found a legit article that flows with truth but this article actually lowers NG creditability. The fact that Religious icons are being done out of ivory and that the “Catholic Church” seem to be the one that can help alleviate the buy is a bold statement to make and in my opinion completely false and irrelevant to the real issue. I believe that the author wanted to pin the issue at hand on someone and unfortunately the vatican was a target he found fit. Almost missed your deadline on a juicy story? I am not here to argue but just to enlightened the individuals who believe that the “Vatican” is a major culprit in this ongoing injustice. NG needs to hire more accountable individuals that post the articles under their name.

    Bah *spits*.

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