USA Ivory Crush

USA ivory crush event; Denver, Colorado

Adam Roberts, Executive Vice-President of Born Free USA was witness to the latest mass ivory destruction event...

On Thursday, November 14, compassionate wildlife advocates gathered near Denver, USA to witness a historic event:  the crushing of more than 5.4 tonnes of seized elephant ivory. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service held this ivory crush—which included 25 years’ worth of tusks, carvings, and trinkets—to raise awareness of the global poaching crisis, and to spread the firm message that elephant poaching must end. See photos of the event here.

We’re doing this to send a signal to the world that we need to crush the illegal trade in ivory and wildlife products in general,” declared Dane Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who presided over the crush. “These magnificent animals are in great jeopardy because of the commercial trade for their parts.” Ashe called ivory an "emblem of greed and callous indifference."

The ivory was placed in a rock crusher and pulverized.

This event could not have come at a more critical time. There has been a drastic increase in elephant poaching over the past five years. In 2012 alone, poachers killed upwards of 30,000 elephants:  a startlingly significant proportion of Africa’s estimated elephant population of only 422,000.

Fortunately, the urgent issue of wildlife trafficking has garnered attention from some powerful players. In July, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order to establish a Presidential Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking to improve his government’s response to combating this trade. Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea have spearheaded concerted efforts to protect elephants through the Clinton Global Initiative.

The ivory crush itself drew some big names. Kristin Davis, renowned actress and wildlife advocate, showed her support at the event. Davis worries for the living victims of the ivory trade:  the baby elephants left orphaned after their parents’ slaughter. When people asked Davis whether crushing this ivory meant that these elephants died in vain, her answer was: no, crushing this ivory meant that these orphans could live.

At a September White House event, Ashe stressed that Americans must be key actors in the fight against poaching. “Much of the world’s trade in wild animal and plant species—both legal and illegal—is driven by U.S. consumers or passes through our ports on the way to other nations. The species and habitats of our planet support billions of people and drive the world’s economy. We all have a stake in ensuring their survival.”

Though combating the ivory trade remains an uphill battle, events like this ivory crush—and the supporters that it attracts—strengthen our resolve to crush this gruesome trade once and for all. Ashe reminds us that “we have a choice; we will either be a witness, or a solution, to this ecological disaster.” Will you be part of the solution?

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