By Jessica Leber
In October, U.S. enforcers of wildlife trafficking laws will destroy a mountain of ivory stockpiled in a warehouse in Colorado in a new public push to stem an illegal $10 billion industry.
The big “crush” comes because they have seized so much ivory--more than six tons. There’s literally no room to store it anymore.
The Denver Post describes the warehouse, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Property Repository, which holds wildlife objects and parts that are seized from smugglers. U.S. authorities are prohibited from selling any of it:
"The warehouse increasingly is stuffed with ivory that no longer fits on shelves. Piles of tusks and boxes full of bracelets and trinkets clutter the floor. Forklifts are used to clear pathways between heavy pallets of the plunder."
"Some tusks are from young elephants — representing generations lost because elephants cannot reproduce until age 25 and poachers usually kill elephants before sawing off their tusks."
"The seized ivory includes ornate carvings. A pair of 18-inch-tall Asian ivory figurines depicting a classical Chinese lady and gentleman already were labeled with price tags: $7,500 each."
Awareness-raising is one reason for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to clean house, and it is sorely needed to stem demand for illegal ivory in the international markets. The poaching problem is growing in Africa, and as with the drug trade in Latin America, the proceeds are being used to fuel violence. More....