We’re Crushing One Ton of Ivory in Times Square This Week

This week the U.S. will be stepping up for Africa’s elephants by holding another ivory crushing event at Times Square in New York City in an effort to raise awareness about the poaching crisis and to send the message that wildlife trafficking won’t be tolerated.

International efforts are underway to shut down markets for illegal ivory, but there has been controversy over the best path forward to saving elephants from the real threat of extinction, mainly questioning whether or not there should be a legalized trade in ivory and what should be done with stockpiles.

In 1989, Kenya became the first to destroy ivory when President Daniel arap Moi torched 12 tons of tusks in Nairobi National Park, representing an estimated 2,000 elephants who had been killed over the previous four years. At the time, he said the gesture was an “appeal to people all over the world to stop buying ivory.”

Later that year the international trade in ivory was banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), with the exception of two government sales held in 1999 and 2008. Some believe the ban would have helped, but those legalized sales spurred both the demand for ivory and poaching, and led to more consumer confusion about what is and isn’t legal.

Supporters of legalizing sales of confiscated ivory argue that lifting the ban would create revenue that could be put towards elephant conservation and the lower prices of legal ivory would decrease the market rate, which would lower incentives for poaching, but opponents argue that it would only cause more problems.

Opponents fear that putting more ivory on the market will stimulate the demand and create the perception that buying ivory is fine, in addition to offering a cover to sell ivory from newly killed elephants. We already have legalized sales for ivory that was imported into the U.S. before 1989, but that market is clearly not protecting elephants.

One thing is clear: elephants are in trouble. Recent reports have found half of Mozambique’s elephants have disappeared over the last five years, while Tanzania has seen a 60 percent decline in the same amount of time, bringing the population from from 109,051 in 2009 to just 43,330 in 2014. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) estimates one is killed every 15 minutes.

Conservationists fear that the current rate of killing will erase these iconic animals from the landscape forever in the near future.

Since Kenya first took a stand by destroying its stockpile, more than a dozen other countries have followed the lead at public events of their own. The crush in Times Square, which will be hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with a number of conservation organizations, will be the second in the U.S., following another held in Denver, Colorado, in 2013 that destroyed six tons of seized ivory. The majority of the ivory being destroyed at this event was seized from a store in Philadelphia in 2009.

“By publicly destroying illegally-obtained ivory in Times Square―one of the most recognizable and iconic intersections in the world―the United States is giving the elephant crisis the kind of global spotlight it deserves, said African Wildlife Foundation CEO, Dr. Patrick Bergin.

Hopefully it will help spread the message to the world that this is a global problem that is going to need all of our support and that there is no such thing as ethical ivory it all comes from the bodies of dead elephants.

The event at Times Square will be held on June 19, at 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public. For those who aren’t local, WCS will be livestreaming it for everyone at 96 Elephants.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

225 comments

Mark Donners
Mark Donner3 years ago

Botswana and Uganda have the right idea, they use military tactics. Anyone who even thinks about killing an elephant in those countries is a dead man walking.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

How does crushing the ivory benefit the elephants or save their lives?

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Caroline d.
Caroline d3 years ago

SO SHOCKING ! ! !
What an appealing advertisment for poachers and buyiers !!!
Who are the completely stupid people overpaid (by the cityzens) who had this brilliant idea? FIRED !!!

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angela l.
Angela L4 years ago

In the old days people killed to survive as they lived in the wild just like wild animals, but we are now living in the 21st century in the city and should live like a true human being. If the poachers chose to kill, then they might as well live in the wild along side with those wild animals!!
The best of luck for the elephants, may they outlive humans - the world destroyers!!!

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Julia Oleynik
Julia Oleynik4 years ago

Thank you for sharing

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Dt Nc
Dt Nc4 years ago

Danke

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

Wonderful:)

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Marie W.
Marie W4 years ago

Too bad not crushing poachers and buyers.

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M k
M s4 years ago

i do NOT understand how crushing this ivory helps rhinos and elephants It only creates more demand Why isn't it used for teaching in africa,china ,korea and the USA to TEACH stupid humans that they are ingesting the equivalent of our toenails and fingernails?

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