THE IVORY WARS

AFTER A SEVEN-YEAR BAN, THREE AFRICAN NATIONS WANT TO SELL TUSKS. WILL THE REST OF THE WORLD ALLOW IT?

The warehouse is someplace in Windhoek, capital of the southern African nation of Namibia. The exact location is a closely guarded secret for the treasure it conceals is so precious that it is informally known as "white gold." Inside, in room after room, stuffed onto metal shelves that reach from floor to ceiling, are tens of tons of gleaming ivory--the tusks of African elephants carefully collected by government agents over the past seven years and stockpiled here. The cache is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

That value is purely theoretical, however. Both the export and import of ivory are...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!