RAW: Illegal ivory crushed in Central Park

Posted at 12:53 PM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 12:53:04-04

NEW YORK (RNN) – Almost 2 tons of ivory, including figurines, statues, jewelry and even full elephant tusks will be crushed in New York City’s Central Park on Thursday to help end the illegal ivory trade. The amount of ivory is from about 100 slaughtered elephants.

Some of the items are lovely – and some very expensive. The New York Post reports that one Japanese sculpture called a netsuke, which is about the size of a golf ball, is worth an estimated $14,000. A pair of intricately carved ivory towers is worth $850,000, the Associated Press reports.

It is all being fed into a rock crusher and turned to dust.

State environmental officials and representatives from conservation societies wanted to send a message to those who slaughter African elephants for their tusks.

“This so-called artwork that to me is a repugnant representation of a sick trade will be pulverized into nothing as a powerful symbol of the state’s commitment to enforcing this ban,” New York’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Basil Seggos at an event last week that showcased $8.5 million worth of confiscated ivory artifacts.

An estimated 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa because of illegal poaching, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

A New York law has banned the sale, purchase or trade of any item made of elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn. New York City is the nation’s largest port. Other states that have ivory bans include California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. In 1990, the sale of ivory across international lines was banned, but the U.S. allowed sales domestically until last year when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed the loophole.

According to National Geographic, 140,000 elephants have been killed in the past decade. There are 400,000 African elephants remaining in the wild. If poaching continues at the current rate, the elephants will be extinct by 2025. Elephants usually are killed when poachers take the tusks.

Other nations have held ivory crushes in the past, hoping to send a message to poachers who use the money to fund other illegal operations including terrorist cells.

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