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Another Country Takes a Symbolic Stand for Elephants by Crushing Ivory

Another Country Takes a Symbolic Stand for Elephants by Crushing Ivory

This week Belgium took a symbolic stand for elephants by crushing its entire stockpile of confiscated ivory in a move that condemns poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife.

The event was hosted by Belgian Vice Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, who was joined by members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), who helped organize the event, and officials from European and African countries, including elephant range states.

Belgium’s crush followed similar events held in the U.S., France, China and the UK and destroyed 1.5 tons of ivory that had been seized over the past 25 years, sending a strong message to the world that the trade in ivory has to stop. Conservationists are applauding the move in part because Belgium is believed to be a key transit point for the illegal trade between Africa and Asia and because it is home to the European Union’s headquarters.

IFAW’s President and CEO, Azzedine Downes, believes Belgium’s crush will “make ripples throughout Europe.”

While destroying stockpiles of ivory won’t stop poaching, the events send a message that ivory has no value. It isn’t a symbol of affluence, but of selfishness, death and corruption that no one should want. As IFAW points out, these events also keep the issue in the public eye and help raise awareness about the plight of elephants who continue to be slaughtered by the thousands simply for their tusks.

IFAW estimates that up to 50,000 elephants are killed every year, which breaks down to 100 elephants dying each day, or one dying every 15 minutes. By some estimates, if drastic actions aren’t taken these amazing animals could disappear in a mere 10 years.

Fortunately for elephants, leaders are taking this issue seriously and continue to come together to strengthen efforts to fight wildlife trafficking.

Belgium’s crush came just in time for the Conference on the EU Approach Against Wildlife Trafficking, which was held in Brussels this week, ending a public consultation launched in February that asked how the EU can stop wildlife trafficking.

The meeting hosted 170 representatives with various backgrounds who discussed different ways EU member states can help fight the illegal trade in ivory and combat organized wildlife crime. According to a press release, this marks the first time representatives from all parts of government came together with practitioners from the entire enforcement chain, which shows the need for more coordinated efforts to crack down on poachers and traffickers.

Representatives stressed the need for improving enforcement of existing laws and the potential for taking diplomatic actions against countries that are affected by wildlife trafficking, in addition to talking about how to maximize international cooperation to investigate and take action against organized criminal networks.

The EU Commission will examine the input and announce changes it plans to make on the issue.

Meanwhile, in more good news for elephants from the states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned sport hunters from importing trophies from elephants killed in Zimbabwe and Tanzania at least for the rest of the year, citing declining populations and uncontrolled poaching as motives.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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8:57PM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

Here we are signing petitions to save elephants and other endangered species from poachers and there are two Americans posting photos of themselves with their dead prey (lions, elephants, rhinos, etc.). What kind of example is America setting for the rest of the world?

8:31PM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

The Ugandan president just gave a standing order to shoot poachers on sight. Now this needs to be enforced. Deploy the militaries and track down the Asian criminals and criminal gangs who are smuggling and do not give them any mercy. This is the only option that works.

1:26PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Symbolically, I agree BUT

I hope they can find a good use for the ivory powder that the elephants gave their lives for...

1:19AM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

This is great news, but I do disagree with one line - "While destroying stockpiles of ivory won’t stop poaching, the events send a message that ivory has no value.
Ivory does have value to the elephants themselves!!

3:13PM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

Petition already signed.... Great symbolic stuff, but please, start by doing something that will repel poachers! Like a life sentence in jail!!

7:57PM PDT on Apr 26, 2014

Good news from Belguim. I hope the EU can continue to increase punishments towards poachers. The US needs to step up and become a bigger player against the poaching also.

7:39AM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

Animals are far better than humans!!! Only humans would think of using animals for everything for the benefits just for humans! When animals extinct, I hope poachers and animals abusers would extinct as well as they can't adjust their greedy way of life without killing, maybe they end up killing other humans.

7:20PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

I'm afraid this is going to back fire. Destroying something so beautiful and valuable as ivory thinking you're making it worthless, is not going to change an ages old mindset. The poachers think the animals are worthless and kill them only for the ivory and the value just went sky high since the stock pile was destroyed. Stupid, stupid mistake! I hope I'm wrong, but now that the ivory is worth more, the people who have so little to begin with have nothing to lose by risking poaching.

1:17AM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

nice

8:45AM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

THANK U BELGIUM this is good news

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