A rock icon takes on the ivory trade

He's played before millions of fans around the world, achieving rock icon status as the former lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses.

Now Slash is turning his attention beyond rock music—the illegal ivory trade.

The call to action began with several trips to Africa, punctuated by a recent visit to South Africa that reinforced what Slash says he already knew about the current state of elephant poaching.

After interacting with local rangers and wildlife experts and sensing the urgency of the situation, Slash and fellow band mate Myles Kennedy were inspired to write "Beneath the Savage Sun," a new song from his latest solo album that illustrates the brutal ivory trade from an elephant's point of view. (Listeners can download the song here with a $5 donation to the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

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"In people's daily lives, I don't think they're really thinking about ivory," Slash told CNBC in an interview.

As part of this call to action, the guitarist also partnered with the IFAW to spread awareness of the international ivory trade, which was banned in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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Between 20,000 and 25,000 elephants were killed by poachers worldwide each year between 2011 and 2013, according to CITES.

As a commodity, the price of illegal ivory continues to soar. Researchers from the Kenyan-based group Save the Elephants said prices in China for raw ivory soared to $2,100 per kilogram in 2014 from $750 in 2011.