Tagau and Elephants – What’s the Connection?

There is a substantial and important link between humble tagua nuts and majestic elephants. Done right, the use of tagua nuts can help save the lives of elephants.

Tagau is an excellent alternative for elephant ivory. It can be used in all the same ways, and the final product is not discernible between elephant ivory and vegetable ivory. Tagua is similar in beauty, weight, function, color, feel and usability. The largest difference is that tagua comes in much smaller pieces than an elephant tusk.  This challenge is easily overcome with today’s glues.

The benefits to using tagua instead of elephant ivory to make upscale buttons, carvings, piano keys, and jewelry are obvious from both the elephant’s point of view and from a business point of view. An elephant only has the two tusks, and his life is generally taken to obtain the tusks. In 2011 alone, about 10,000 elephants were killed for their tusks:  between 4-11% of the world’s population of elephants. Occasionally elephants are put to sleep and their tusks are sawed off, however, an elephant needs it’s tusks to access certain minerals it needs in the wild. A tusk-less elephant will not continue to be healthy.  (source: https://www.dailynews.co.tz/index.php/columnists/columnists/anne-outwater/22274-can-ivory-be-sourced-without-killing-the-elephant )

Aside from the horrific loss of life of these amazing animals, ivory is simply not a sustainable resource. We have fewer and fewer elephants each year; they reproduce slowly and grow their tusks over a long period of time. There are no workable ways to obtain elephant ivory to meet the demand for ivory. Killing elephants to make knick-knacks is unjustifiable, even from the most crass business point of view.

Governments in those countries with elephants are working hard to protect the magnificent animals, spending resources that they can often ill afford. In addition there is the regular loss of human life of those touching the trade. Park wardens are regularly murdered by poachers, some reports saying up to 100 wardens are killed by elephant poachers annually. Likely many of the poachers are killed too. The killing is needless, we just have to stop selling and trading elephant ivory and switch to tagua.

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