- The ivory, weighing nearly two tons, is believed to represent more than 100 slaughtered elephants.
- By destroying the illegally obtained ivory, authorities hope to send a message to poachers, traffickers and dealers that the slaughter of elephants will not be tolerated.
- All of the ivory that was crushed on Thursday came from seizures over the past three years, mostly from New York City.
Hundreds of pieces of jewelry, sculptures and vases made of elephant ivory were destroyed at New York City’s Central Park on Thursday. The ivory, weighing nearly two tons, is estimated to be worth $8 million and is believed to represent more than 100 slaughtered elephants.
The ivory crush was organized by the New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and supported by luxury jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. By destroying the illegally obtained ivory, authorities hope to send a message to poachers, traffickers and dealers that the slaughter of elephants will not be tolerated.
“The crushing sounds inside Central Park today equal justice for elephants,” John Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs of WCS and Director of the 96 Elephants Campaign, said in a statement. “The crusher pulverized more than 2 tons of elephant ivory, ensuring that this ivory will never again bring profit to the criminals killing off the world’s elephants.”
In 2014, New York became one of the first states in the U.S. to ban the sale or trade of items made from elephant and mammoth ivory and rhinoceros horns, limiting the trade to some products, such as those demonstrated to be at least 100 years old or those containing very small amounts of ivory.
Several other states followed suit and enacted their own ivory bans, and in 2016, the U.S. government enforced a “near-total ban” on the commercial trade of elephant ivory.
All of the ivory that was crushed on Thursday came from seizures over the past three years, mostly from New York City. In 2015, for instance, state authorities busted two sellers on 57th St. in Midtown Manhattan with $4.5 million worth of ivory items. The brothers, Irving Morano and Samuel Morano pleaded guilty in July this year, and the confiscated ivory was part of Thursday’s ivory crush.
An estimated 30,000 African elephants are killed for the illegal ivory trade every year, mostly fuelled by demand from China, according to a 2010 report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The U.S. is also a big ivory market, with Washington D.C. emerging as the new hub of ivory trade in the country, an investigation by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring group, found recently.
“Today’s event demonstrates that New York has zero tolerance for the sale of illegal ivory and other forms of wildlife crime,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said. “My office and our partners at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society are committed to doing everything we can locally to protect this species and end poaching once and for all.”
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