“On Thursday, November 14, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will destroy some six tons of elephant ivory seized over the years by its special agents and wildlife inspectors in connection with violations of U.S. wildlife laws and treaties.”
This event is known as the Ivory Crush and it is being executed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS). The destruction of this illegal ivory is a message to ivory traffickers and consumers buying ivory products: “the United States will not tolerate this illegal trade. We’re standing with nations that have already destroyed their illegal ivory and showing our commitment to working with partners around the world to stop this trafficking and save elephants.”
As the Ivory Crush website states, “More than 30,000 elephants are killed each year for the illegal ivory trade. Elephant poaching is at its highest level in decades and it continues to rise. These animals are being slaughtered across Africa to meet an insatiable global demand for ivory. Scores of the park rangers who work to protect them have also been killed.”
Poaching Facts (all facts provided by U.S. FWS):
- In recent years, it is estimated that more than 30,000 elephants are killed in Africa annually by poachers.
- Elephant poaching in Africa is at its highest level in decades and it continues to rise.
- Forest elephants in Africa have undergone devastating declines between 2002 and 2011, losing approximately 62% of their population size and 30% of their geographical range.
- In the last 10 years, poachers have killed more than 11,000 forest elephants in just one national park in Gabon.
- Chad has lost almost 90% percent of its elephant population in the last decade. In 2012, approximately 450 remained.
- Poachers in Zimbabwe killed more than 300 elephants, as well as countless other wildlife, by lacing water holes and salt licks with cyanide.
- Rangers put their lives on the line to protect wildlife from poachers. In Virunga National Park in the DRC, 150 rangers have been killed in the last 20 years. (link to Virunga NP factsheet)
- In 2011, illegal ivory seized worldwide reached 38.8 tons, representing more than 4,000 dead elephants.
- In August, 2013, Hong Kong officials seized over 1,100 ivory tusks along with rhino horn and leopard skins.
- Recorded levels of ivory seizures are at their highest since 1989.
- Elephant poaching is fueled by a growing demand for ivory in Asia. China and Thailand are the two countries most heavily implicated as final destinations for smuggled ivory.
Watch the video below to learn more about Ivory Crush. In addition, check out the quotes (below the video) from a variety of officials and activists reacting to the event, and giving their opinions on the illegal wildlife trade, the threats elephants and other animals face, and the importance of combatting illegal wildlife trafficking.
Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior:
“Rising demand for ivory is fueling a renewed and horrific slaughter of elephants in Africa, threatening remaining populations across the continent. We will continue to work aggressively with the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies around the world to investigate, arrest and prosecute criminals who traffic in ivory. We encourage other nations to join us both in destroying confiscated ivory stockpiles and taking other actions to combat wildlife crime.”
Robert G. Dreher Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division:
“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. The terrible and criminal trade in these products is destroying wildlife species that are invaluable to us and to future generations; it is also undermining global security. The Justice Department views wildlife trafficking as a serious crime, and is committed to using every tool it has, under the Lacey Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other applicable laws, to stop this international criminal activity.”
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace:
“I hope the media and everyone who attends or hears about this “Ivory Crush” will spread the message far and wide: Elephants across their range are suffering horribly, and we are losing them at a terrifying rate. They could become extinct.
Do not buy ivory products. Support conservation efforts. We must all do what we can.
I commend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for organizing this event and wish I could be there in person.”
Peter Knights, WildAid Executive Director:
“In 1989 awareness around the international ivory ban cut demand and poaching fell immediately. Destroying seized ivory is one method of drawing attention to the current crisis. Laws and enforcement can only do so much. It is vital to reach consumers. Simply put, when the buying stops, the killing can too.”