What Is It About an Elephant's Tusks That Make Them So Valuable?

In a beautiful and brutal report, New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman describes the carnage, both animal and human, in harrowing detail. Last year, he writes, "broke the record for the amount of illegal ivory seized worldwide, at 38.8 tons (equaling the tusks from more than 4,000 dead elephants). Law enforcement officials say the sharp increase in large seizures is a clear sign that organized crime has slipped into the ivory underworld, because only a well-oiled criminal machine -- with the help of corrupt officials -- could move hundreds of pounds of tusks thousands of miles across the globe, often using specially made shipping containers with secret compartments." (Although there are many sources of ivory such as walruses, rhinoceros, and narwhals, elephant ivory has always been the most highly sought because of its particular texture, softness, and its lack of a tough outer coating of enamel.)

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/what-is-it-about-an-elephants-tusks-that-make-them-so-valuable/262021/

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