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Letters to the editor, September 4

Death in ivory

This summer we took a trip to Africa. There, we sponsored a baby elephant at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, which rescues orphaned elephants, largely due to poaching for ivory. It cost us $50 per year. Two days ago the baby died.

I began to think is spending $50 a year the only thing I can do to help offset the effects of ivory poaching?

The answer is no.

Every time you look at a piece of ivory, be it a carved tusk or a religious icon, there assuredly is a dead elephant, probably long since rotted, in Africa. Some African (who was just trying to feed his family) ran a spear into the side of the elephant or hacked a baby with a machete to make sure the mother stayed around long enough to kill her.

When you see a piece of ivory, there was a living elephant in absolute terror as a second spear was thrown that later had its tusks hacked out of its head. You are (like it or not) supporting this action either by using ivory or saying nothing.

Two large consumers of ivory are the Catholic Church and rich Chinese. The next time you see ivory used, look beyond the symbol or the beautiful art work and see a dying elephant in the sands of Africa.

God gave the elephant tusks. Is chopping them out of their heads and leaving their orphans to die in the sun the best we can do?

Bill Reed