By Suzanne Goldenberg
The Obama administration said on Monday it would destroy all 6m tons of its stocks of seized ivory – potentially millions in contraband – stepping up efforts to crush an illegal trade that has brought wild elephants to the brink of extinction.
The ivory destruction, announced at a White House event addressed by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, was part of a broader effort by the administration on Monday to elevate wildlife trafficking from narrow conservation interest to urgent national security concern.
Destroying the ivory would signal that Obama was committed to stopping illegal trafficking in wildlife that has devastated species such as elephants and rhinos, and is a growing security threat, officials told the audience.
"Rising demand for ivory is fuelling a renewed and horrific slaughter of elephants in Africa, threatening remaining populations across the continent," the interior secretary, Sally Jewell, said. "We will continue to work aggressively … to disrupt and prosecute criminals who traffic in ivory, and we encourage other nations to join us in that effort."
The destruction – which officials said would be public – was scheduled to take place on 8 October, officials said.
Jewell also announced a new advisory council, made up of former administration officials, conservation and business leaders, to help guide the crackdown on the criminal poaching syndicates.
Obama has given growing prominence to the dangers posed by wildlife trafficking over the last year amid an explosion of the illegal trade. More....