Elephants are beautiful and intelligent animals, and yet their worldwide population is threatened due to the global ivory trade. Now, famous Canadians are advocating for an ivory-free Canada on Twitter, urging the ban of ivory sales in our country where the sale and trade of ivory still continues.
Using the hashtag #IvoryFreeCanada, notable Canadians such as William Shatner and Margaret Atwood asked their followers to sign a change.org petition. The petition was created by The Ivory-Free Canada Coalition to completely end the sale of elephant ivory in Canada.
The Jane Goodall Institute Of Canada also tweeted out their support, being one of five Canadian organisations leading the cause.*
While there is still an enforced ban on international ivory trade, some countries still regulate the sale of ivory within their own borders. In Canada, it's legal to trade ivory that came from elephants killed before 1990. However, because it's incredibly difficult to differentiate new and old ivory, illegally obtained ivory can still make its way into the market.
During a 2016 request put forth by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Canada was only one of four countries to vote against a complete ban on ivory sales. The main concern was that the ban would affect Inuit communities who trade narwhal and walrus ivory.
However, according to Tessa Vanderkop, director of strategic relations and advocacy at Elephanatics, the ban would only be for the sale of elephant ivory. She told the Toronto Star that elephant ivory is easily distinguished from other forms.
Currently, the change.org petition has over 435,000 signatures, with a new goal of 500,000. Twitter users from other countries have signed the petition in support of the initiative.
Vanderkop told the Toronto Star, "I think it says that people just do not have any kind of tolerance for this kind of thing anymore and they want governments to do the right thing."
According to the Elephanatics website, there are only about 200,000 African forest elephants in existence today. While the population has shown a slight resurgence recently, it's still threatened by the illegal ivory market.
*This article has been updated.