I ran across this pretty interesting article this morning that discusses the global crackdown on ivory. Written by Svati Kirsten Narula and appearing in The Atlantic, “Crash and Burn: A History of the Global Crackdown on Ivory” details how many nations around the world are trying to stem the tide of illegal (i.e., poached) ivory flowing from Africa and elsewhere. Narula writes:
It’s an unlikely and ambitious government project: Over the next two years, Hong Kong will embark on the world’s largest ivory burn, setting 28 tons of illegally harvested tusks aflame to signal a shift in its valuation of elephants. As National Geographic reports, this is actually the latest in a string of public ivory disposals around the world. China crushed six tons of tusks and ivory ornaments on January 6; the United States smashed six tons in November 2013; and the Philippines burned five tons in June 2013, making history as the first “ivory-consuming nation” to destroy almost all of its national stock. Gabon burned its stockpile in June 2012.
Quite an interesting article, and it shows that significant strides being made in something that has been around since the time of Conrad. The ivory trade’s centrality in Heart of Darkness is something that is often overlooked (and it clearly worked a bit differently than it does today), but it should be clear that the role ivory plays in the novel and for the characters in the novel has a long, turbulent, and often horrifying history.