There were stuffed tigers standing at the entrance of the 13,000-square-foot warehouse. Large plastic trash bags filled with thousands upon thousands of dead, dried seahorses sat slumped in the aisle. Shelves running row after row the entire length of the building were lined with seized wildlife parts and products: turtle shells; the heads of big cats; boots made of snake, crocodile and other hides; a collection of animal skins. And then there was the ivory. There was a massive container filled with an array of trinkets—ironically, many adorned with elephants carvings—along with walking sticks and a huge variety of larger carved pieces. There were tusks; some were large and clearly from older adults and others quite small, having been hacked off from their young owners. All told, there were approximately 1.5 million items housed at the National Wildlife Property Repository. Most had been confiscated by law enforcement while being brought into the country illegally. All of the ivory was slated to be crushed the next day. It was an overwhelming display of the consequences of the illegal trade and a stark reminder of the terrible price paid by animals, most of whom were threatened or endangered species.
AWI Quarterly Issue