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US ivory crush sends signal to end elephant ivory trade

WASHINGTON, DC: The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) commends the United States Government’s inspiring step to today (November 14) destroy 5.4 tonnes of seized elephant ivory in Denver, Colorado.

The stockpile represents 25 years of seizures of illegal ivory in the United States and its destruction will focus attention on the devastating impacts of the illegal wildlife trade.

Following President Obama’s Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking, the ivory crush is part of a series of actions in a coordinated US effort to bring attention to poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

“African elephants are suffering unspeakable atrocities across much of Africa to feed the demand for ivory,” said Allan Thornton, president of EIA, a non-profit based in London and Washington DC dedicated to exposing environmental crime. “We are delighted that the United States is the first developed country in the world to destroy its seized ivory stocks, to underscore the intensifying slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.”

The United States is also calling on the other 178 nations party to the Convention on Trade in International Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to destroy their own ivory stockpiles and take a collective stance to combat wildlife trafficking. CITES is an international treaty between governments designed to ensure that wild animals and plants aren’t threatened by international trade.

“Following the seized ivory stockpile destruction, we strongly urge the United States and other countries to take the next step and shut down legal domestic ivory markets, and enact and enforce domestic trade bans,” said Thornton. “Shutting down legal domestic ivory markets that stimulate demand and serve to launder illicit ivory is vital to check the ferocious extermination of elephants now occurring across much of Africa.”

Earlier this year, the Philippines became the first consumer country to destroy its ivory stockpile. Gabon burnt its ivory stockpile in 2012, following the example of Kenya and Zambia which have destroyed their stockpiles in the past.