The best way to stop the poaching of elephants is to stop the demand for ivory. On June 19th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services hosted an event in which over one ton of confiscated elephant ivory was crushed in Times Square to demonstrate that the United States will not tolerate elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade. The ivory destroyed had been illegally brought into the United States and seized by the government.
After China, the United States is the second largest market for ivory in the world. The hope is that public destruction of ivory will draw attention to elephant poaching and educate the public about wildlife trafficking. This event was not the first of its kind—in May, 1,500 pounds of ivory was crushed in Beijing, and in 2013, 6 tons of ivory was destroyed by the U.S. Government in Denver, Colorado. Other events have been held worldwide, adding up to over 50 tons of elephant ivory destroyed.
Currently, at least 33,000 elephants are poached each year. The only way to stop the killing of elephants is to stop the demand for elephant products. Elephant tusks are artfully carved into statues, trinkets, jewelry, and other objects, which are sold in markets worldwide. Many consumers of elephant ivory are not fully aware that an elephant must die to create these objects. WCN and its long-time partner Save the Elephants support organizations working to cut demand for ivory through the Elephant Crisis Fund, which also addresses poaching and trafficking.
If the sale of ivory becomes illegal, poachers will have no incentive to kill elephants, as they will not be able to make a profit from the kills. The public destruction of ivory sends a symbolic message that ivory has zero monetary value.
The only market for elephants should be the viewing of these majestic animals alive and thriving.
– Written by Juliet Norvig