What’s that, a high-end Caribbean resort?
Nope. It’s a type of South American palm tree that just might help to save the world’s elephants from extinction.
The trees have large seeds measuring up to 8cm across that can be dried out, hardened and then carved into trinkets and jewellery. When polished, the resulting attractive, off-white substance closely resembles elephant tusk – so much so that the seeds have been dubbed ‘vegetable ivory’.
That sounds great. But exactly how threatened are elephants?
The number of elephants in the wild is still falling dramatically. It’s estimated that up to 100 animals are killed by poachers each day to meet the continuing demand for ivory.
But isn’t the trade in ivory illegal now?
Well, the worldwide sale of new ivory was outlawed in 1989 – but criminal gangs continue to poach elephants and trade ivory on the black market.
Tagua seeds could offer an eco-friendly alternative to ivory