Elephants have two long, protruding teeth which are called tusks. This dentine material is called ivory which has been considered a very precious item since ancient times. It was used to carve out ornaments, chess pieces, statues, handles of cutlery, piano keys, billiard balls, stem of cigar pipes, jewelry boxes, even false teeth for human beings, etc. While earlier the ivory was extracted only from tusks of dead elephants, in recent times, this led to hunting of elephants. Sometime the poachers would even massacre them. This led to the fear that elephants would become extinct. So the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the trade of ivory and ivory related items in 1989. Still later, all ivory stocks were publicly burnt to give the message that ivory cannot fetch any price in the market.
It is estimated that demand for ivory in Great Britain led to killing of 4,000 elephant in Africa alone in 1831.
Now ivory has a substitute in plastic. No ivory items can be sold anywhere in the world. Some African countries have reported stability in elephant population after this ban. Ivory is also extracted from teeth of hippopotamus, walrus etc.
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