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WebQuests (ICT Integration)

Ivory Everywhere, Tusk, Tusk

The Parks Board in South Africa has warehouses filled with ivory. The world curio and fashion market would pay high prices for ivory, yet the ivory may not be traded. Elephants populations in southern African parks are too large and elephants have to be culled or relocated. Proceeds from the ivory sales could provide employment for many people and vastly improve our park management. The ivory may not be sold. Is this logical?


Amid the controversy on the possibility of lifting the ban on ivory trade, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will reconvene in order to make a decision. It has invited input from the countires which hold major elephant populations. The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) will be representing our country. They have commissioned your team to provide a balanced report on the situation with a recommendation on what its viewpoint should be at the convention.


Your committee must complete the following tasks:

  1. Research the history of the ivory trade, its impact on the biodiversity, and the financial impact of the ivory trade ban on the South African economy and ecological management. You will also need to gather statistics on population sizes of the elephants.
  2. Analyse the data and create a graph to illustrate your elephant population statistics.
  3. Reach a consensus with your committee either to recommend that CITES lifts the ban on ivory trade or continues to enforce the ban.
  4. Create a multimedia presentation to present your recommendation and the data and statistics that support your committee's recommendation. You can use Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft FrontPage to present your recommendation.
  5. Write a letter to CITES that explains the position your committee has taken on the ivory trade issue.
  6. If you use FrontPage to create your presentation, you may want to post your finished Web site to the Internet so you can share your conclusions with a global audience.

For this assignment, you will work in teams of four and you will divide your task into roles as follows (click on each role for more information):

Ecotourism Director
Your task is to research the issue from the point of view of ecotourism. How does the ban on ivory trade affect the economy of the park, the development of communities around the park and income from tourism? On the other hand, how would these sectors be influenced if the ivory trade ban were lifted?
Conservation Manager
Your task is to weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of ivory trade from a purely conservational point of view. Would lifting the ban encourage poaching and, if so, how could the poaching problem be overcome? Would elephants be in danger of becoming extinct? How are elephant populations controlled now and will these measures still be necessary? Does one need to kill elephants in order to extract the tusks? Can elephants survive without tusks?

Research information about the elephant and be ready to provide information to inform the discussion of your group as they weigh up the pros and cons of the ivory trade.
Biodiversity Statistician
You are responsible for collecting elephant population and past ivory trade statistical data. Use a spreadsheet to draw graphs that could support the view taken by your group. Respond to requests for statistics from your group.
Ivory Trade Representative
Your task is to represent the view of potential ivory traders. You need to determine all the advantages of the ivory trade, both locally and internationally. Does ivory have an value other than ornamental? How can you justify the trade if it puts elephant survival at risk?

» Use this analysis sheet to compile your data before and during your group discussion.
» You should use this storyboard template as you plan your final presentation.


» http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2004/september/elephant.htm
» http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_trade
» http://worldwildlife.org/species/elephant
» http://www.wildlifesociety.org.za/conpol_wildlife.htm
» http://www.riverdeep.net/current/2000/05/front.110500.ivory.jhtml
» http://www.ivorynet.com/banivorytrade/arguments.htm
» http://www.elephantcare.org/ivory.htm
» http://www.elephantcare.org/humanele.htm
» http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2004/september/elephant.htm


By completing this activity you and your team would have gained an insight into the ivory trade issue. You will also have experienced how any one issue has many viewpoints because each of you represented a different interest group during the activity.

» Download the Presentation Assessment

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