Two tons of illegal elephant ivory crushed in Central Park

Two tons of illegal elephant ivory crushed in Central Park

NY state and the Wildlife Conservation Society on Thursday partnered to crush almost 2 tons of confiscated illegal ivory in Central Park. Some were extremely valuable. "We won't stand for the slaughter of elephants".

Officials say NY remains one of the top markets for elephant ivory in the country. "Nobody needs an ivory brooch that badly".

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which helped pass the state's ivory ban and helped organize the crush with WCS and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the event demonstrates a commitment to ending the global poaching crisis.

The ivory had come from the tusks of almost 100 slaughtered elephants and the state wanted to illustrate its commitment to obliterating the illegal ivory trade.

A slew of ivory statues, jewelry and knick knacks worth millions was pummeled into dust Thursday in New York's Central Park.

The ceremony here falls a little more than a week after prosecutors announced that the owners of the Manhattan antique shop Metropolitan Fine Arts pleaded guilty to illegal ivory possession.

Investigators said it sends a clear message to illegal poachers and dealers thinking about doing business in NY.

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The Wildlife Conservation Society along with Tiffany & Company and state environmental officials coordinated the event. The first one, organized in Kenya by paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey in 1989, used jet fuel to set fire to 12 tons of confiscated ivory, which burned spectacularly for three days. Others argue that it's wasteful, and that it would be better to sell confiscated ivory to pay for conservation efforts in poor African countries. The ivory was destroyed to send a clear message that the state will not tolerate trading of the material made from precious elephant tusks.

Wendy Hapgood, founder of Wild Tomorrow Fund, said crushing events send a signal that laws banning the ivory trade will be strictly enforced.

Kris Vehrs, Principal Executive Vice President of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums said, "AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been educating the public for years about the tragic impact of illegal wildlife trafficking and its impact on elephants and other species in the wild".

Iris Ho, Wildlife Program Manager for Humane Society International said, "As we crush close to two tons of ivory trinkets today, we remember the majestic elephants whose lives were cruelly sacrificed by poachers after their tusks".

Jeff Flocken, International Fund for Animal Welfare, North American Regional Director said, "The State of NY is showing today that they are standing by their commitment to save elephants".

"To harvest the tusk, they excavate the face", said Lt. Jesse Paluch, who supervises DEC's ivory investigators.

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