Paris Crush Sends Powerful Message but More Action Needed

France has today crushed and incinerated 3.5 tonnes of ivory in the shadow of the iconic Eiffel Tower, ahead of the UK-hosted Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade taking place in London on the 13th February.

Born Free Foundation, an international wildlfie charity, has been protecting elephants and supporting initiatives to eliminate the illegal trade in ivory for more than a quarter of a century. Welcoming this historic event, Born Free’s President Will Travers OBE said:

By destroying this ivory, France is sending two key messages to the global community: that the illegal ivory trade is completely unacceptable and that ivory should never be allowed to enter the marketplace, where it fuels demand and contributes to the death of both elephants and the wildlife rangers trying to protect them.”

Many of the world’s governments are in possession of increasingly large stockpiles of ivory, as a result of seizures made by enforcement agencies. Keeping the ivory secure from criminals can be a huge drain on scarce resources available for wildlife conservation.  In some countries, widespread corruption means that these stockpiles are vulnerable to leakage, with ivory sold to traffickers by corrupt officials. It has been known, for example, for the same ivory to be seized by enforcement officials more than once.  Therefore, in the face of alarming levels of elephant poaching and huge volumes of ivory being trafficked, governments are increasingly accepting that stockpile destruction is the only viable long term solution.

France’s ivory destruction follows hot on the heels of similar initiatives: in June 2012, Gabon burnt its entire 4.8 tonne stockpile, in June 2013 the Philippines crushed almost 5 tonnes, followed by the United States of America crushing almost 6 tonnes in November last year. China also crushed 6 tonnes of ivory last month.

“As many as 50,000 elephants a year are being brutally poached for their ivory tusks”, continued Mr Travers. “It is the responsibility of the global community to stamp out this trade immediately.  Destroying stockpiles and removing them from future use is a vital step in this process. The next step is to raise the necessary funds to implement the African Elephant Action Plan – a blueprint for elephant conservation across the African continent which has been approved by the 178 Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and adopted by all 38 African elephant range States. As far as I am concerned, a future without elephants is a truly appalling prospect and we simply must find the funds to implement the Action Plan before it is too late.”

Born Free today urges all of the world’s governments to destroy all their ivory, commit to implementing the global ban on ivory trade, take action against the ruthless criminals involved in this dreadful and bloody business, and pledge funds for implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan. “This alone”, continued Travers, “will ensure the survival of elephants throughout their range.”

Watch the crush


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