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Six Tons of Ivory Crushed by US in Historic Event

WWF calls for US moratorium on trading of ivory

tusks before ivory crush

More than six tons of ivory tusks, statues and jewelry were destroyed in an effort to stop the demand for illegal wildlife products.

An enormous gravel crusher spewed chips of ivory, turning six tons of illegal elephant ivory tusks, trinkets and souvenirs into gravel at an event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver today. There were few dry eyes among the celebrities, congressional delegates, foreign ambassadors, conservationists and journalists invited to witness the historic event.

The message behind this dramatic act was unmistakable: the United States will not tolerate ivory trafficking and is committed to stopping wildlife crime. The ivory is the accumulated contraband from more than 20 years of seizures by U.S. law enforcement.

“I do not doubt that the ivory crush sends a signal out to the world that the US has zero tolerance for poaching,” said Ginette Hemley, speaking at the event. “This symbolic act must be supported with real action and WWF is calling for a moratorium on ivory trade and sales in the US”

Unrelenting demand

The illegal ivory crushed in Denver—all of it seized and surrendered on American soil—represents a fraction of what is being bought, sold and smuggled in and out of the country.

We need your help to crush the illegal ivory trade

Support legislation to crack down on wildlife trafficking and enact a moratorium on ivory trade in the United States

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There remain considerable challenges to enforcement of US laws despite a ban on international commercial trade in ivory since 1989 through CITES. State laws vary widely and a federal loophole allows ivory owned before the ban to be legally sold. Smugglers take advantage of the system to sell poached ivory as carvings, jewelry and other trinkets. Even many US online auction and fashion websites are being used as shop fronts for illegal ivory.

Last year, wildlife criminals slaughtered more than 30,000 elephants for their tusks. Their ruthless pursuit of ivory also endangered the lives of frontline conservationists like rangers, many of whom are not able to fight back against poachers armed with military grade weapons. Wildlife mafia are intimidating local communities, exploiting the poor, and corrupting law enforcement efforts. Their actions are now fuelling regional conflicts, undermining the safety and security of entire regions.

Seeking a solution

Behind every piece of ivory is a dead elephant. Any purchases or sales of ivory only fuel the current poaching crisis.

“We need to end the demand that is fueling ivory trafficking and get serious now about saving elephants,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US. “A US moratorium on all trade of ivory products must follow.”

WWF urges the US and other countries fuelling the elephant poaching crisis to take all available measures to disrupt and prosecute those who prey on and profit from the slaughter of these animals.

WWF and its partners are calling on the US government to crack down on wildlife trafficking and enact a moratorium on domestic ivory trade. This push is part of WWF’s global campaign to stop wildlife crime and save endangered species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos.

Take action now and support legislation to crack down on wildlife trafficking and enact a moratorium on ivory trade

  • crushed ivory at ivory crush event

    The crushed ivory sends a strong signal that the US is committed to stop wildlife poaching and save elephants.

  • gravel crusher at ivory crush

    The gravel crusher destroys the ivory. The banner beside the crusher memorializes the 30,000 elephants killed for their tusks in just the last year.

  • Ivory tusks before ivory crush

    The stockpile of ivory in the crush was confiscated over 20 years through seizures by U.S. law enforcement.

  • Bracelets and trinkets gathered for ivory crush

    No matter how small, each confiscated ivory trinket represents an elephant's life needlessly taken.

  • Steve Oberholtzer, USFWS, prepares tusks for ivory crush

    Before the crush begins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepares tusks and other ivory for the gravel crusher.

  • loading the tusks

    Before sunrise crews began loading ivory which FWS seized during undercover investigations of organized smuggling operations or confiscating at the U.S. border over the past 25 years.

  • tusks lined up

    Seized ivory slated for destruction in the crush.

  • crushed ivory

    Ivory that has been crushed.

  • crushing ivory

    The crushing of the ivory continues.

  • ivory supply outdoors

    The destruction of this ivory was witnessed by representatives of African nations and other countries, dozens of leading conservationists and international media representatives.


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