On November 14 at the National Wildlife Property Repository in Denver, the US Fish and Wildlife Service pulverized six tons of elephant ivory that had been seized by its agents from smugglers, traders and tourists over the past 25 years. Hauled on multiple trips via a front-end loader, the stockpiled ivory was unloaded onto a conveyer belt that fed a rock crushing machine. As ivory dust billowed from the crusher, the small, ground-up bits spewed via another conveyer into a container.
The destruction of the ivory was intended to highlight the global poaching crisis—much of it driven by organized crime syndicates—and send a message that elephants are in urgent need of protection and the illicit trade in ivory must be stopped. A million dollar reward was announced by Secretary of State John Kerry for information leading to the disruption of a syndicate based in Laos. Currently, the demand for ivory is responsible for the poaching deaths of more than 30,000 elephants each year and the global trade is estimated to be approximately $10 million. Although the primary demand for the ivory is in Asia, many of the tusks end up in the United States—the world’s second biggest market for wildlife products. The slaughter of elephants has reduced the African elephant populations to 300,000.
Please help stem the flow of ivory into the United States by making sure that everyone you know is aware that they should not buy ivory—even ivory passed off as “antique.” Also, contact your members of Congress and urge them to support a ban on all trade in ivory. While legislation has not been introduced as we go to press, we anticipate a bill later this year. Write to representatives: Honorable (full name), US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515; to senators: Honorable (full name), US Senate, Washington, DC 20510.