(UNITED STATES / WILDAID) Authorities in New York today destroyed nearly two tons of illegal ivory confiscated in the state.
The crush was intended to discourage consumers from buying illicit wildlife products, and to demonstrate to traffickers and sellers that wildlife crime is taken very seriously in the U.S.
Up to 33,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory tusks, which are used in carvings, jewelry and other products.
WildAid, one of the organizations co-sponsoring the crush, has found that only one in five Americans knows that the U.S. is a major trafficking hub for the illegal wildlife trade.
A study released last month by TRAFFIC, WWF and crush co-sponsor IFAW found hundreds of ivory items on sale in U.S. shops and across online auction sites, despite a near-total ban on ivory sales in the country that came into effect last year.
A number of ivory destructions have taken place in various countries in recent years, including locations in Asia, Africa and the U.S. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed one ton of ivory in Times Square. Two years before, in 2013, the agency crushed six tons.
WildAid’s Stop Wildlife Trafficking campaign with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, aims to educate American consumers, particularly those travelling abroad, so that they do not unknowingly contribute to the poaching of animals through their purchases.
WildAid has also led a campaign in China, Hong Kong and Thailand to reduce demand for ivory. China has announced a ban on domestic ivory sales that will be fully implemented by the end of 2017, while Hong Kong’s Legislative Council is currently considering a domestic ivory ban to be phased in over five years.