Dubai: Dubai Municipality will by the end of this month destroy six tonnes of ivory seized from smugglers over the years, an official said.
Aisha Al Muhairi, head of the municipality’s marine, environment and wildlife section, said the ivory will be crushed and mixed with sludge to render it useless.
The confiscated ivory — in various forms such as elephant tusks, polished, rough, or as bracelets — is worth “millions of dirhams”, she added.
It will be the first time in the Middle East that such a large amount of confiscated ivory will be destroyed, in line with international regulations, according to Aisha.
Ivory trade is illegal in the UAE under Federal Law No 11 of 2002, the municipality said in a statement on Sunday.
The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) uses its Appendix I — for species that are threatened with extinction and that are or may be affected by international trade — to regulate the ivory trade.
International trade in species listed under Appendix I — such as the African elephant that is poached for ivory — is not allowed. The seized ivory is stipulated to be rendered unusable by destruction, the municipality added.
The contraband had been confiscated during routine inspections over “a long time, a number of years” in Dubai, Aisha said. It was held by the municipality in storage until further directions from the Ministry of Environment and Water, she added.
Following its transfer to the ministry, the directions have now come for it to be destroyed — crushed and mixed into sludge — which will take place towards the end of April, Aisha said.
“This will be a major national event, not just for Dubai but for the UAE. We, the municipality and the ministry, are partners. It’ll be a first of its kind event in the Middle East,” she added.
“Before it had not been easy to crush. The developing countries usually burn the ivory, but that’s not OK for us to do, [especially] with such a huge amount.”
In the municipality statement, Alia Al Harmoudi, director of the municipality’s environment department, said the municipality will take the action in line with international treaties such as Cites. An awareness campaign regarding the ivory trade will run alongside the event.