By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Gabon has demonstrated to the world it is committed to taking action against illegal wildlife trade by publicly burning 4,825 kg (10,637 lbs) of elephant ivory. The contraband included 1,293 elephant tusks and 17,730 ivory trinkets — representing the deaths of more than 850 elephants.
President of Gabon, Ali Bongo, ignited the ivory pyre today in Cite de Democratie.
Gabon has a policy of zero tolerance for wildlife crime and we are putting in place the institutions and laws, to ensure this policy is enforced.
Gabon is one of the ten member states of COMIFAC, all of which recently approved an agreement to strengthen law enforcement efforts against wildlife trafficking which is plaguing the region.
This time the decision has come from the top and should be an example to others. Many Central Africa ministries still proudly display pieces of worked ivory in their offices. Many government officials are implicated in illicit ivory trafficking. This must end.
Ivory stockpile audit In order to ensure that all government-owned ivory was accounted for prior to the burning, WWF and TRAFFIC worked with Gabon to independently audit the stockpile.
WWF supports Gabon’s decision and sees the move as an indication of the country’s commitment to curbing elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade. Ivory of illegal or unknown origin cannot be sold legally internationally for commercial purposes. Gabon has acted commendably in deciding to put such ivory beyond use. More....