Crushing Ivory… And hopefully demand!

Date Published

On the 14th of November The United States of America sent a strong message to the world: We won’t stand for the killing of elephants. America is one of the top destinations for ivory smuggled out of Africa, and also serves as an important transit point for carved ivory. At the highly publicised ceremony, America crushed about 6 tonnes of ivory, the country’s entire stockpile. Thousands of items accumulated over the past 25 years were piled into a large mound, then dumped into a steel rock crusher and pulverised into dust at the National Wildlife Property Repository outside Denver, Colorado.

Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed for their ivory every year. At this rate the largest mammal still to walk the earth could be gone from the wild within our lifetimes. Scientists are now unanimous that elephants are decreasing in all four regions of Africa: West, Centre, East and South. At Save the Elephants we see the suffering, the wounding, and the mourning of elephants, time and again as one after another is killed in heart-rending succession.

The destruction of ivory stockpiles can make waves that change the world. When Kenya burnt its ivory in 1989 it precipitated the ban on international trade in ivory that served Africa’s elephants well for twenty years. Now weakened by two one-off sales of naturally-accumulated ivory, the legal domestic trade in various nations that these sales fuelled now acts as cover for ‘blood ivory’.

“America is showing great leadership, and crushing the national ivory stockpile is of huge symbolic importance,” says Iain Douglas-Hamilton, CEO of Save the Elephants. ‘By removing that ivory from the market for ever, it will send a strong message to the world that ivory cannot be a commodity if elephants are to survive.’

Save the Elephants is united with a broad coalition of conservation organisations in calling for the United States government to stop this illegal trade and save elephants in the wild, by closing existing loopholes and enacting a moratorium on ivory commerce until elephant populations have rebounded and poaching is no longer a threat. Congress should also help wildlife law enforcement personnel enforce our existing laws by ensuring they have the additional tools and resources they need to apprehend, prosecute and convict wildlife criminals.

Please join this call and lobby your congressman, or write a letter to President Obama & Secretary Sally Jewel!