Ton of ivory crushed in NYC to high­light poach­ing

The China Post - - LIFE - BY KAREN MATTHEWS

Over a ton of con­fis­cated ivory tum­bled off a con­veyor belt into a rock crusher in Times Square on Fri­day in a sym­bolic dis­play high­light­ing an illegal trade that ac­tivists say threat­ens the sur­vival of African ele­phants.

The Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci- ety says the global ivory trade is re­spon­si­ble for the slaugh­ter of as many as 35,000 ele­phants a year in Africa.

“Crush­ing ivory in Times Square — lit­er­ally at the cross­roads of the world — says in the clear­est of terms that the U.S. is se­ri­ous about clos­ing its illegal ivory mar­kets and stop­ping the de­mand,” said John Calvelli, the so­ci­ety’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for public af­fairs.

U.S. and state gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, con­ser­va­tion­ists, an­i­mal­wel­fare ad­vo­cates and tourists gath­ered to watch as hun­dreds of ivory trin­kets were turned into a pow­der that fed into a trough, wait­ing to be trucked away.

The event was or­ga­nized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, New York state agen­cies and the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety, which runs New York City’s zoos.

Ac­tress Kris­ten Davis, a long­time ad­vo­cate for ele­phants known for her role in the HBO show “Sex and the City,” said at the event no one should ever buy ivory even if a dealer says it’s an an­tique.

“We are go­ing to lose ele­phants in 10 years if we don’t do some­thing, which means that our chil­dren will never know that ele­phants roamed the planet in the wild as they should,” Davis said.

The crush was one of sev­eral ivory de­struc­tion events that have been held around the world to stig­ma­tize the ivory trade.

The Times Square ivory will be com­bined with the 6 tons that was crushed in Den­ver in 2013 and used to cre­ate a me­mo­rial to ele­phants.

Of­fi­cials said they are com­mit­ted to fight­ing the ivory trade not just to pro­tect ele­phants but to com­bat ter­ror­ists who profit from ele­phant poach­ing.

“An­i­mal traf­fick­ing, we now know, is fund­ing those dan­ger­ous groups out there,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Is­rael, a Long Is­land Demo­crat. “It is a source of rev­enue for ter­ror­ist groups around the world.”

Much of the ivory de­stroyed Fri­day was con­fis­cated from Philadelphia an­tiques dealer Vic­tor Gor­don, of­fi­cials said.

Gor­don was sen­tenced in fed­eral court in June 2014 to 2 1/2 years in prison and or­dered to pay US$157,500 in fines and for­fei­tures for smug­gling ivory into the U.S.

AP

(Left) The U.S. gov­ern­ment dis­plays con­fis­cated illegal ivory be­fore crush­ing more than a ton in an ef­fort to halt ele­phant poach­ing and ivory traf­fick­ing on Fri­day, June 19. (Far Left) The U.S. gov­ern­ment dis­plays con­fis­cated illegal ivory be­fore crush­ing more than a ton in an ef­fort to halt ele­phant poach­ing and ivory traf­fick­ing on Fri­day.

AP

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