Since the 1980s, the United States has been confiscating and stockpiling illegal African elephant ivory. On November 14, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will destroy part of the country's stockpile — six tonnes of ivory in all — to send a message of zero tolerance to poachers.
"By destroying our domestic stocks of ivory, we send a very clear signal that these illegally traded products should not be perceived as items of value," said Robert G. Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources, at a press conference. Hit the gallery to see some examples of confiscated illegal ivory.
In recent years, the value of ivory has increased rapidly: it's now worth significantly more than gold, fetching more than $1,000 a kilogram in Beijing, Newsweek reports. As a result, the slaughter of African elephants has intensified. Activist organization WildAid estimates that 25,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory.
To further drive home the message, the crushed ivory will be used to create memorials against poaching across the U.S., the New York Times reports. At the moment, the confiscated ivory is in various forms, including complete tusks, artworks and other objects.
The U.S. is currently the second-largest consumer of illegal animal products made from elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn, behind China.
In July, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to fight wildlife trafficking, calling for a new task force to address the issue, and committed $10 million to help Africa fight poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
The destruction of the stockpile was originally scheduled for October 8, but it was cancelled due to the government shutdown.
Jane Goodall was in the red chair last month, and she talked about the slaughter of elephants for their tusks. Goodall's Roots And Shoots organization has actively campaigned against the illegal ivory trade.
For Jane's comments on elephants, go to the 3:55 mark in the video below. And catch the full episode in which Jane appeared on CBC Television Tuesday, November 12 at 7 p.m. Atlantic and 11:30 p.m. in the rest of Canada: