Special Reports

Who Buys Ivory? You’d Be Surprised


A new international survey reveals what’s really driving the demand side of the ivory market.

The majority of people who buy products made from ivory say they would support banning the sale of ivory.

That conflicting sentiment is one of several surprising findings in a new international survey published Wednesday by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan.

The study represents an effort to better understand what motivates people in the United States and Asian countries to continue purchasing ivory, despite years of efforts to raise awareness about how the illegal trade is fueling the mass slaughter of elephants.

This tragedy, however, can’t compete with the allure of “white gold”—especially among young fashionistas in low- to middle-income brackets who see ivory as a way to project an image of wealth and social status, the survey finds.

National Geographic’s Bryan Christy discusses his groundbreaking investigation into ivory trafficking.

“There’s a clear disconnect between individuals saying, ‘I’m going to buy it’ and ‘I support enhanced regulations of the ivory trade,’” says Terry Garcia, the chief science and exploration officer for the National Geographic Society. “Some of it is just rationalization; they’ve managed to construct an argument in their own minds as to why it’s no harm.”

Click here to read the full report.

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