The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's announcement today that it will destroy the U.S. stockpile of illegal ivory – 6 tons of it seized by U.S. authorities – is an important signal for the need to end trafficking in illegal elephant products. A recent surge in this illicit trade has resulted in the killing of 30,000 African elephants annually in recent years.
Despite the 1989 ban on commercial ivory trade in the U.S., recent seizures and busts in the country show that the United States remains a major destination for illegal ivory. Destroying the ivory stockpile sends a crucial message that ivory is not acceptable as art – nor jewelry, carvings or trinkets.
"The U.S.'s leadership two decades ago in limiting domestic trade in ivory prompted action from others around the world," said Jeffrey Flocken, IFAW North American Regional Director. "IFAW applauds this symbolic act and hopes that the next action of the government will be a full ivory moratorium in the U.S."
"By crushing this ivory stockpile, the U.S. government is sending a signal. If we're going to solve this crisis we have to crush the demand, driven by organized crime syndicates who are robbing the world of elephants and stealing the natural heritage of African nations," said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund. "It's a global phenomenon. So we hope this encourages other governments to take bold, decisive steps to curb the demand for illegal elephant products."