(AP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is destroying 6 tons of confiscated ivory at a federal repository outside Denver on Thursday. Here `s 10 things to know about the ivory crush:
CRUSHED TO DUST
Officials are using rock crushers to pulverize ivory elephant tusks, figurines and jewelry _ most of the U.S. stockpile of confiscated ivory _ at the National Wildlife Property Repository.
Authorities hope the ivory crush will send a message to poachers and smugglers responsible for ivory trafficking that encourages the slaughter of thousands of elephants, most of them in Africa, each year. More likely, Thursday’s event will raise consumer awareness.
THE GLOBAL TRADE
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the illegal ivory trade is a $10 billion global industry. Demand is booming in the United States and among China’s growing middle class. The British-based Born Free Foundation estimates 32,000 elephants were killed last year.
THE IVORY BAN
Curbing “blood ivory” trafficking is at the top of the agenda of the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which banned the trade in 1989. Some 70 years ago, there were as many as 5 million elephants in sub-Saharan Africa. Today, just several hundred thousand are left.
WHERE IT CAME FROM
U.S. agents confiscated the ivory from smugglers, at ports of entry and even from tourists entering the United States. Fish and Wildlife officials say the ivory being destroyed represents at least 2,000 slaughtered elephants.
WHERE IT’S GOING
The pulverized ivory will be put in a large case for display to raise awareness of the issue.
The Service has used confiscated ivory as evidence in criminal and civil cases and for educational purposes. Over the years, it’s accumulated far more than it needs.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Kenya (in 1989 and 2011), Gabon (in 2011) and the Philippines (in June) have destroyed large quantities of ivory. Still, poaching is at record levels.
U.S. officials and representatives of conservation groups working to stop the slaughter, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund and the Born Free Foundation.
WHAT’S THE WILDLIFE REPOSITORY
The National Wildlife Property Repository stores items that are in violation of the U.S. Endangered Species Act or are smuggled illegally into the country. It’s located at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge just north of Denver.
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