In a clear signal of its intention to tackle wildlife crime, the US Government announced today that it will destroy six tonnes of ivory stockpiled in a secure government warehouse.
Confiscated by government law enforcement officials over the past 25 years, the stockpile of ivory will be fed into an industrial sized crushing machine in front of visiting dignitaries and television cameras to send a message to poachers and wildlife trackers that the US government is committed to breaking up the illegal ivory trade.
Unfortunately, according to the Guardian website, this six tonne stockpile is only half of what was seized from the black market in Xiamen city, China, this week alone. Despite an international ban on ivory trade that was brought in two decades ago, the demand for elephant ivory has boomed after a relaxation in regulations, driven in part by wealthy Asian buyers who see ivory as a status symbol. Poaching is a significant and very worrying threat to African Elephants.
However, the US government is determined to tackle wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade. As well as destroying this stockpile of ivory, an initiative called the Global Clinton Initiative was launched by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton in September this year which saw USD 80 million pledged towards a crackdown on poaching hotspots in Africa.
Working with conservation organisations and a number of African governments, the funds provided by the Global Clinton Initiative will be used to hire and train 3,100 park rangers at 50 sites in eastern and central Africa; to fund sniffer-dog teams along the top smuggling routes; and to train law-enforcement officials and judges responsible for prosecuting international trafficking gangs. Money will also be used to lobby governments to ban commercial ivory sales until elephant populations have returned to sustainable levels.
The ivory stockpile in America will be destroyed this coming Thursday 14 November and US diplomats have already begun encouraging other governments to carry out their own high profile eliminations of stockpiles and demonstrate that they too are serious about tackling wildlife crime.
A piece of carved ivory or an ivory bangle may look beautiful but it represents a living creature that has been slaughtered for nothing more than its tusks. The only place ivory belongs is on an elephant and this is where it should stay.
You can find out more about America’s plans to destroy its ivory stockpile here.
Find out more about the Clinton Global Initiative’s efforts to tackle elephant poaching here.