Ivory is used to make chop-sticks, ornaments, jewelry, hair accessories, bow clips, needles, bones, buttons, hair pins, spear tips, handles, billiard balls and medicines, according to The Atlantic and Animal Rights Action. Ivory is also used in certain medicines, notes Animal Rights Action. Much of the demand for ivory comes from China and Thailand, according to The Atlantic.
A large portion of the world's ivory comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman wrote that 2013 "broke the record for the amount of illegal ivory seized, at 38.8 tons, (equaling 4,000 dead elephants). Law enforcement officials say that the sharp increase in large seizures indicates that organized crime is involved because it requires a well-oiled machine to transport large quantities of illegal ivory across the globe. Many tusks are smuggled in shipping containers with secret compartments. The growing middle class of China is responsible for the recent increase in ivory demand, according to The Atlantic. This surge in demand has resulted in the price of ivory increasing to over $1,000 per pound, as of 2013. The Atlantic notes that elephant ivory is the most sought after because of its texture, softness and lack of a tough exterior.