By James A. Foley
A Gabonese official is congratulating the United States after Thursday's highly publicized, but largely symbolic, destruction of nearly 6 tons of illegal ivory accumulated over the last quarter century.
Gabon was the catalyst for the US's move to destroy its stockpile of confiscated ivory, when in June 2012 the country's president Ali Bongo personally set fire to Gabon's seized ivory cache.
"Gabon was the first country, to send a clear and loud signal that it is determined to put an end to wildlife criminality by destroying its entire ivory stockpile," the head of Gabon's National Parks Agency, Lee White said, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
"We congratulate the United States for sending the same signal, which we hope will be heard around the world. We also encourage other states to do the same and fully audit and publicly destroy their seized ivory stocks," White said.
Some have argued that destroying ivory stockpiles will do nothing to drive down the high price the item commands on the black market.
"By destroying the ivory, you create even more ivory scarcity and increase the incentives for future poaching," said Matthew Yglesias, the economics and business correspondent for Slate. "It seems like the more reasonable approach would be to arrest and punish human beings who are committing crimes, and then sell the seized ivory and use the proceeds to finance more anti-poaching efforts."
The US Fish and Wildlife service, however, dismisses that notion.
"Our criminal investigations and anti-smuggling efforts have clearly shown that legal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal ivory trade," the FWS wrote in a fact sheet about Thursday's ivory crush. "Therefore, selling the ivory stockpile and allowing it to enter the marketplace could contribute to increased elephant poaching and stimulate even more consumer demand for ivory." More....