The United States are about to start the long-awaited ivory crush. Delayed due to the government shut-down the crushing operation is just a short time away. Thousands of pieces of ivory, from complete tusks to carved ornaments, are on public display just in front of the stone crushing machine which will pulverize it. The remaining dust will be donated to a museum for a future project.
While the United States is not the first country to crush or destroy its ivory tusks it is certainly one of the most symbolic destructions that have taken place. US authorities have also laid down a challenge to all the members of CITES to follow their lead and destroy their own stockpiles.
The stockpile being destroyed today amounts to the ivory from over 2000 elephants and weigh in at just under 6 tons. The commercial value is said to be in the order of USD $12 million at an average black market value of $2 million a ton.
“African elephants are suffering unspeakable atrocities across much of Africa to feed the demand for ivory,” said Allan Thornton, president of EIA, a non-profit based in the United States and London dedicated to exposing environmental crime. “We are delighted that the United States is the first developed country in the world to destroy its seized ivory stocks to underscore the intensifying slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.”
“Following the seized ivory stockpile destruction, we strongly urge the United States and other countries to take the next step and shut down legal domestic ivory markets and enact and enforce domestic trade bans,” said Thornton. “Shutting down legal domestic ivory markets that stimulate demand and serve to launder illicit ivory is vital to check the ferocious extermination of elephants now occurring across much of Africa.”
While the destruction of the ivory stock sends a very real signal about the commitment of the United States to tackling the elephant poaching menace the real task is to change the attitudes of consumers. The long-term task must surely be to make ivory possession as anti-social as wearing fur or animal skins.
Director Dan Ashe explains US ivory crush operation, credit Jan Vertefeuille