In-demand ivory sought for jewellery and potions

Angus Walker

Former ITV News Correspondent

Ivory is used in Eastern traditional medicine. Credit: CCTV

It's a little known fact that ivory is used in Eastern traditional medicine. We all know about the huge demand for rhino horn, which has led to the worst year for rhino poaching in 2012.

However, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) staff based in Beijing, ivory is also in-demand.

The elephant tusks are mainly used to make ornaments and jewellery, which, if worn, is meant to boost your immunity and protect from serious disease.

The ivory is so precious that offcuts and shavings are then powdered and put into herbal potions which claim to offer cures for a wide range of ailments, from the common fever to the more serious diseases; like cancer.

Despite campaigns by IFAW and other wildlife protection groups, the demand just keeps on rising for this type of traditional medicine. It's easy to buy in the large cities in China, even though officially it's illegal. If you have the money, you can get it.

By the year 2020, research suggests that half of the world's middle classes will be in the Far East and that means exotic and costly medicines which contain rhino horn or ivory are within the price range of more and more people.

A deadly prescription for the magnificent beasts of Africa.