Call to destroy seized ivory (India)


The Hindu

Date Published

The expose on elephant poaching in Edamalayar forest has renewed the call for destroying the ivory in the possession of the State government.

Many fear that the decision to put on display eight tonnes of ivory in its possession at a museum would encourage poaching of tuskers. The government decision goes against the spirit of the international practice of destroying ivory seized by enforcement agencies. Recently, motifs, trinkets and ornamented jewellery carved out of ivory, which weighed one tonne, were powdered at Time Square in New York City, pointed out those who campaign for the destruction of ivory.

V. Gopinath, former Chief of Forest Force, Kerala, who mooted a proposal to this effect, felt that there was no reason for keeping the ivory in the museums as suggested by the State government.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had suggested way back in 2005 that wildlife trophies, including ivory, should be destroyed. Support for keeping it in museums come from those who approach the issue from an emotional perspective. Storage and security of ivory museum would eventually become a burden, he cautioned.

Show of affluence

Jose Louis of the Wildlife Trust of India said it was not a good idea to display ivory at museums. In Kerala, possession of ivory was considered as the display of one’s affluence and social status. There was no legal trade and value for ivory as its trade was banned, he said.

The display of ivory and rhino horns posed risks. Ideally, they should be destroyed and if required, a few samples could be kept for historic and scientific reasons, he said.

V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary of the Heritage Animal Task Force, had written to the wildlife authorities demanding the destruction of ivory in the possession of various State governments and wildlife crime control bureau. Ivory should be destroyed with stone crushers, he said.

Kerala government had not implemented the Centre’s directive to destroy its stock of confiscated ivory.