UQ School of Biological Sciences and Griffith University researcher Dr Duan Biggs said with no real measure of the effectiveness of these conservation marketing events, there is no way of judging if they achieve their objectives of reducing ivory demand and supporting elephant conservation.
"If ivory consumers, poachers, dealers and policy makers were the intended audiences, then a strategy of sustained media pressure to extend news coverage to weeks or months may have been better to effect change," Dr Biggs said.
"These destruction events should also coincide with key meetings of policy makers, with more leaders of source, transit and demand countries invited to attend."
The piles of ivory burning. Photo: Daniel Stiles.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions Dr Matthew Holden said governments, donors and NGOs should introduce monitoring around events such as ivory burns.
"There is an urgent need for measures of media reach, and how messages are received, and whether it changes attitudes in ivory demand countries," Dr Holden said.
"For example, does it cause fluctuations in raw and worked ivory prices, or impact the levels of consumer demand for ivory products?"
The international study, involving researchers in Australia, South Africa, US, Kenya, Tanzania, Japan, Taiwan, UK, and the Philippines, is published in Conservation Biology (doi: 10.1111/cobi.13097 ).
Piles of ivory before the burn. Photo: Daniel Stiles.