Mountains of elephant tusks and piles of ivory bracelets, trinkets and figurines – six tons of ivory the US government has seized over the past 25 years – will be smashed to dust by a rock-crusher this week in Denver, Colorado.

The Obama administration hopes the November 14th ivory crush will send a message to the world that the United States has made ending illegal wildlife trafficking a priority, and to inspire other countries to follow suit.

More about the Ivory Crush

“Though the crush is the first American ivory destruction, other countries have been destroying the material for some time. Over the summer, the Philippines crushed and burned 5 tons of ivory from its stockpile to prevent officials from stealing and selling the material on the black market. In 2011, the Kenyan president also burned their ivory to send a message to poachers, though fire alone doesn’t destroy the material.

Ivory has been estimated as worth more than cocaine and gold on the black market, with annual revenue of about $10 billion. Destroying the stockpiles, officials say, is intended to show poachers and traders that ultimately there is no market for the material. “There shouldn’t be a value on ivory,” Ed Grace, the deputy chief of law enforcement at the Fish and Wildlife Service, told TIME.

The American ivory stockpile represents a mere fraction of the tons of ivory that exists on the global market.

The global marketplace is dominated by East Asia, where the nouveau riche consider acquiring ivory products a status symbol and countries across Africa, where thousands of elephants have been slaughtered and funneled through organized crime groups. Traditional poachers have been replaced by dangerous organizations like the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Congo and the Somali al-Shabab that sell the ivory from elephant tusks for the purchase of weapons.

The Obama administration is hoping that their efforts, including the Executive Order issued by President Obama in early July to curb poaching and protect endangered species, and next week’s crush, will discourage the traders and encourage other countries to act.

Taken from Time Swampland article by Maya Rhodan


Ivory Memorial 

“Federal authorities plan to save pieces of crushed ivory to use in a memorial — in Washington D.C. or another appropriate location —to the tens of thousands of elephants killed by people.

Quote from Denver Post article by Bruce Finley


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