Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tusks torched

"Ever since Kenya's President Daniel Arap Moi, flanked by Kenya Wildlife Service Director Richard Leakey, set fire to 13 tons of ivory in 1989, the destruction of ivory has been one of the world's most recognized acts of defiance against elephant slaughter and ivory trafficking," writes Bryan Christy in National Geographic. Authorities in source countries have burned African elephant tusks to take them out of circulation in the illegal ivory trade, such as the 5 tons seized in Singapore in 2002 and burned in Kenya in 2011 (IMAGE ABOVE). But in a ceremony on Friday, the Philippines became the world's first ivory-consuming nation to destroy its national ivory stock. Government workers burned and crushed more than 10,000 pounds (4700 kg) of elephant tusks smuggled from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Uganda to send a strong message that the country will no longer tolerate trafficking. The Philippines is a transit country for ivory on its way to China to be made into carvings and chopsticks, and even tusks that have been confiscated have been stolen by the tons from customs storerooms and resold in the black market. The remainder of the "blood Ivory," as it is called, was worth roughly $6.5 million, but the lives of the dozens of slaughtered elephants it represents were – of course –worth infinitely more.

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