A towering elephant installation made entirely from ivory tusks has been unveiled at Gaborone’s international airport, in Botswana, a stark, eye-catching reminder of the country’s need to protect its elephant population.
The structure at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport is constructed entirely from the tusks of elephants which died of natural causes and weighs 2.5-tonnes. The art installation was publicly unveiled by the president of Botswana, Ian Khama and took Six artists three months to complete. The sculptors are part of a community-based project called Thapong Visual Arts, also based in Gaborone.
The president told reporters that the sculpture was intended “to raise our collective consciousness about the plight confronting the African elephant.”
Poaching rates of elephants are rising fast across Africa thanks to a rising demand for ivory in China. A 2014 study revealed that between 2010 and 2012, up to 100,000 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory.
President Khama also said that the structure “will serve as a reminder to all who pass through this building that one live elephant is worth so much more than all the pieces of art made from ivory gathering dust in homes far removed from the African plains.”
“Much of the ivory that leaves the borders of African elephant range states finds its way out in the cargo holds of aircraft and the baggage of passengers.”
The president commended the efforts by Prince William and the Royal Foundation, who recently set up a task force that will work to shut down the transport arteries of the criminal syndicates who run the illegal ivory trade.
photo credit: MONIRUL BHUIYAN