Earlier today, officials in the Chinese city of Guangzhou destroyed 6.1 tonnes of confiscated ivory tusks and objects in an effort to send a message to poachers and curb demand in the world's largest ivory market.
The move follows a similar ivory crush conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last November in Denver, Colorado.
According to the South China Morning Post, the ceremony took place this afternoon in front of diplomats, conservationists, members of the media, and former NBA star Yao Ming, who's taken up wildlife causes in his retirement.
“Today’s ivory crush is a significant step in raising public awareness and will hopefully lead to similar events throughout China,” said Yao in a statement issued by the environmental group WildAid.
According to the group, as many as 35,000 African elephants are killed each year for their ivory, a number that's been steadily increasing. And last year saw nearly 1,000 rhinoceroses poached in South Africa alone — a rise of nearly 50 per cent over 2012 numbers. Pulverized rhino horn has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine, although new uses have emerged as well, including as a designer party drug in Vietnam.
“The destruction of seized ivory makes an important public statement that, in conjunction with other government-led efforts to reduce demand, has the potential to have a significant impact on the illegal market for ivory,” said Tom Milliken, the ivory trade expert at Traffic, an organization that monitors wildlife trade.
The Morning Post reported that over the past three years, China has confiscated at least 16 tonnes of ivory. A global ban on the international ivory trade has been in place since 1989, although there have been occasional sell-offs permitted by the UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Those sell-offs account for a parallel legal ivory trade in China, which can help drive the demand for illegal ivory that's been "laundered" with fake provenance certificates, the Telegraph reports.
When Jane Goodall was in the red chair earlier this season, she talked about the slaughter of elephants for their tusks. Her Roots And Shoots organization has actively campaigned against the illegal ivory trade. Skip to the 3:55 mark in the video below to see Jane's comments on elephants:
Via The Guardian