By Bryan Christy
The act comes in the wake of the country's being identified by National Geographic magazine as having a longtime ivory-trafficking problem.
"The destruction of the items would hopefully bring the Philippines' message across the globe that the country is serious and will not tolerate illegal wildlife trade, and denounces the continuous killing of elephants for illicit ivory trade," says Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
PAWB, the country's lead wildlife agency, will destroy all the ivory in its possession, except for 106 pieces to be repatriated to Kenya and a few pieces to be retained for training, enforcement, and education purposes.
Five tons is less than half of the total ivory seized by the Philippines in recent years. But most of that seized ivory grew legs and disappeared. (Related photos: "Blood Ivory.")
Customs agents seized 7.7 tons of smuggled ivory in 2005 and another 5.4 tons in 2009. But a subsequent audit revealed that customs had "lost" almost six tons of this ivory, an act so suspicious that PAWB sued the agency.
Customs turned its 2009 seizure over to PAWB, which soon discovered that it too had mice in its larder. Someone broke into its storeroom and stole more than 1.7 tons. The thieves even replaced the stolen tusks with excellent replicas made of plastic. More....