By Pia Ranada
Over 5 tons of smuggled ivory tusks–valued at roughly P420 million–were crushed on Friday, June 21 to symbolize the Philippine government's commitment to fight illegal ivory trade.
At 10:30 am, environment department officials, representatives of African governments and the media witnessed the crushing of the tusks with the use of a road roller at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.
It soon became evident that the road roller could not succeed in totally pulverizing the rock-hard tusks, some of which were over 4 feet long.
Government officials prepared for this and announced during a press conference that after the symbolic crushing, the left-over bits of tusks would be cremated at the animal crematorium of the Bureau of Animal Industry. This is in contrast to the open-air burning of ivory tusks by Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi in 1989 which was criticized by environmentalists.
"This act is a strong statement to the rest of the world that the Philippines is serious and will not tolerate illegal wildlife trade," Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje told a press conference preceding the crushing.
"This smuggled ivory despite their worth in the black-market represent hundreds of slaughtered elephants killed by poachers. The Philippines will not be a party to this massacre. We refuse to be a conduit to the cycle of killing."
The Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), the largest database of elephant tusk seizures, identified the Philippines as a major transit point for ivory coming from Africa or other Asian countries en route to China, where the demand for the tusks is high. More....