One of the largest awareness events this year was held on Friday in Times Square, as a massive rock-crushing machine was used to pulverize over one ton of confiscated ivory in front of a crowd of hundreds, raising awareness to the plight of elephant poaching.
The event was organized in the popular location by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and it was also meant to mark a year since New York passed legislation which banned the sale and trafficking of mammoth and elephant ivory and also rhino horns. The one ton of ivory used in the event was fully comprised of confiscated good from attempted sales ever since.
Most of it was confiscated from the biggest ivory smuggler in the U.S., Philadelphia art dealer Victor Gordon, who was sentenced to two and a half years in prison last year after it was found out that he smuggled $800,000 worth of ivory into the country.
A whole array of ivory-made object were sent into the 50,000 pound grinder, including but not limiting to instruments, statues, bowls, trinkets or jewelry. Each of the pieces were attached a green evidence tag, and some of the dust and chunks resulted from the crushing occasionally flew into the crowd.
This is the second instance of massive ivory crushing in the U.S., following the 2013 pulverizing of over 6 tons of confiscated ivory. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still holds more than 7 tons of confiscated ivory, for which it was hosting a design challenge on its site searching for way to transform the crushed ivory into an awareness tool and provide more public education related to the risks of illicit ivory trading.
However, despite public ivory crushing events are held more and more often, elephant poaching statistics in Africa are still devastating, with the African and Asian elephants numbers being decimated by almost 10 percent yearly due to ivory trade.
A co-author of 2013 UN report about elephant poaching for the ivory trade, Dr. Daniel Stiles, told NBC News that such public events might actually have the opposite effect of the one intended, with elephant poachers intensifying their activities to cover the market holes which such events leave.
The world’s largest ivory contraband hub is in China. Despite the fact that the country and Hong-Kong have crushed more than 30 tons of ivory over the last few years, it still has more than 70 percent of the world’s contraband ivory passing through it yearly.
Image Source: Gothamist