Following the destruction of the U.S. government’s stockpile of ivory in Denver on Thursday, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) released the following statement from CEO Patrick Bergin:
On behalf of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), I commend the U.S. government for the leadership it has shown today in destroying its stockpile of ivory, and I urge all countries with their own reserves of ivory—be they producer, transit, or consumer countries—to take the equally courageous step of destroying their stockpiles.
As I watched the government crush more than two decades’ worth of confiscated ivory—nearly 6 tons in all—I could not help but think of the 12 tons of illegal ivory recently seized in China. And the 2 tons of ivory seized in Tanzania two weeks ago. And the 6 tons seized in Malaysia at the end of last year. I am convinced more than ever of the necessity of destroying all stockpiles and ending trade in ivory in order to disrupt the world’s addiction to ivory. Though a 1989 ban on the international trade in ivory remains in place, many countries, including China and the United States, still allow domestic trade, which has served only to sustain demand for ivory products while providing legalized cover for the illicit industry.
Today the U.S. government sent a clear, unambiguous message to those who would kill for, profit by, or otherwise benefit from the illegal wildlife trade that there is absolutely no appetite for the kind of destruction that consumer demand for ivory has spawned. Over the past year, Africa’s elephants have been poisoned, gunned down, speared, and hacked apart. They can no longer support the world’s addiction to ivory. The debate is over. Ivory belongs to elephants.