By Holly Kellum
As Africa struggles to to prevent its elephant population from being pushed to the brink of extinction, some 7,000 miles away, Philippine authorities destroyed five tons of smuggled ivory worth $10 million—the largest amount of ivory destroyed outside of Africa so far.
The Philippines, along with Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong, is a major transit route and destination for ivory. While its demand for ivory is dwarfed in comparison with countries like China and Thailand, it ranks one of the top nine countries propelling the illegal ivory trade.
Philippine authorities said that the destruction of the stockpile Friday, gathered from seizures since 2009, demonstrates its commitment to fighting the illegal ivory trade. It also eliminates any opportunity for corrupt officials to resell the ivory, as was the case in 2006 when the largest single shipment of 3.7 tones vanished from the inventory, according to an international network that tracks the illegal trade.
“Ivory is known to have disappeared from a number of government-held stockpiles worldwide, so it is vital that proper protocols are established,” said Colman O Criodain from the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Steven Galster, director of Bangkok-based anti-wildlife-trafficking Freeland Foundation said that “This not only sends a message to wildlife traffickers that the Philippine government is taking firm action against the illegal ivory trade, but also takes a stand against corruption by burning their ivory stockpile so it cannot be stolen then sold into the black market.” More....