U.S. Destroys Confiscated Ivory Stockpile

Sends Message That Wildlife Trafficking, Elephant Poaching Must Be Crushed

Friday, November 15, 2013

The United States on Thursday destroyed its six-ton stock of confiscated elephant ivory, sending a clear message that the nation will not tolerate wildlifecrime that threatens to wipe out the African elephant and a host of other species around the globe. The destruction of this ivory, which took place at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Property Repository on Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver,, was witnessed by representatives of African nations and other countries, dozens of leading conservationists and international media representatives.

It is the latest in a series of actions by the Obama administration designed to crack down on international poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.

“Rising demand for ivory is fueling a renewed and horrific slaughter of elephants in Africa, threatening remaining populations across the continent,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “We will continue to work aggressively with the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies around the world to investigate, arrest and prosecute criminals who traffic in ivory. We encourage other nations to join us in destroying confiscated ivory stockpiles and taking other actions to combat wildlife crime.”

Some six tons of ivory were pulverized by an industrial rock crusher in front of some of the world’s most influential conservationists. Speakers included U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe; Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President of World Wildlife Fund; Azzedine Downes, CEO of the
International Fund for Animal Welfare; and Paula Kahumbu, Executive Director of WildlifeDirect. Remarks were also provided by Robert Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Judy Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

“By crushing its contraband ivory tusks and trinkets, the U.S. government sends a signal that it will not tolerate the senseless killing of elephants,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund.“Other countries need to join the United States, Gabon, Kenya and the Philippines to take a stand against the crime syndicates behind this slaughter."

“The destruction of the U.S. ivory stockpile speaks loud and clear to those who value ivory more than saving the elephant species from extinction,” said Mr. Downes. “IFAW commends the government’s action that underscores thecritical role the United States can play in ending the illegal ivory trade.”

Also present were representatives from other global wildlife conservation organizations, members of the White House Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, actress and IFAW Ambassador Kristin Bauer van Straten, actress and IFAW Ambassador Joely Fisher, and actress and Patron for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Kristin Davis.

The destruction of the ivory follows an announcement by the President establishing the first ever council to advise the government on ways to improve coordination and implementation of domestic and international efforts to fight poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking. Formation of the council stemmed directly from his July 1 Executive Order (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/01/executive-order-combating-wildlife-trafficking) directing U.S. government agencies to ramp up efforts to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade.

The Service accumulated the ivory destroyed today over the past 25 years, seizing it during undercover investigations of organized smuggling operations or confiscating it at the U.S. border. Although it is difficult to put an exact figure on the number of different elephants this ivory represents, it certainly numbers in the thousands. Prior to being seized, most of this ivory was destined to be sold illegally in the United States or overseas.

“The United States is part of the problem, because much of the world’s trade in wild animal and plant species – both legal and illegal – is driven by U.S. consumers or passes through our ports on the way to other nations.  We have to be part of the solution,” Mr. Ashe said. “The species and habitats of our planet support billions of people and drive the world’s economy. We all have a stake in ensuring their survival.”

“Similar demand for elephant ivory in the past led to devastating declines in the number of these giant animals, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s,” Mr. Ashe added. “Although many populations showed signs of recovery due to increased protections in the 1990s, rising global demand for ivory is erasing those hard-fought gains.”

In the last 10 years, an estimated 11,000 forest elephants were killed in Gabon’s Minkebe National Park alone. During that time period, the total population of forest elephants plummeted by an estimated 62 percent across Central Africa. Elephant massacres have taken place in Chad, Cameroon and the Central African Republic in the past year. Well-armed and organized criminal enterprises have taken advantage of insufficient protection capacity in remote areas.

African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and are protected under the African Elephant Conservation Act. Trade in these animals and their parts is also regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – a global agreement through which the United States and 178 other nations work to protect species at risk.

Although some African elephant ivory (including lawfully hunted trophies and antiques that meet specific requirements) can still be imported legally into this country with appropriate permits, the United States generally prohibits commercial trade of both raw ivory and ivory products. The Service is currently evaluating ways to further strengthen its elephant ivory trade controls.

In addition to law enforcement efforts, the Service also works to support on-the-ground efforts to conserve elephants through the Wildlife Without Borders African Elephant Conservation Fund and the Africa Regional Program.  These programs, in partnership with government agencies, private organizations and local communities, are supporting initiatives to conserve and manage African elephants through law enforcement, habitat management, community initiatives and other effective conservation methods.

In 2012, the Service awarded grants for African elephant conservation totaling $1,397,916, which raised an additional $1,606,004 in leveraged funds. Grants supported field projects in 13 nations, focusing on the protection of vulnerable elephant populations and increasing the capacity of partner countries to prevent elephant poaching and ivory trafficking.

The ivory fragments left by the crusher today will be stored temporarily at the Service’s National Wildlife Property Repository. The agency is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and other partners to identify how best to use this material to increase awareness of the global poaching crisis and commemorate this historic event.

For more about Thursday’s event, and messages from supporters of the crush, and to learn more about the plight of African elephants and global efforts to save them from poachers and the illegal ivory trade, visit www.fws.gov/le/elephant-ivory-crush.html.


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Outdoor Chattanooga Featured Event Fireside at Greenway  Oct. 30 Erin Medley and a starry night Outdoor Chattanooga will finish our 2014 Fireside at Greenway Farm series with a special evening of guitar folk and stargazing this Thurs., Oct. 30, 7 ... (click for more)

Governor Haslam Dedicates Trail At Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area

Governor Haslam joined staff from the Tennessee Division of Natural Areas, Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation last Friday to dedicate a new trail at Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area. “Tennessee has incredible natural areas that offer something for everyone, and this partnership will help protect and preserve these lands for future generations ... (click for more)

Two North Shore Sold To Pennsylvania Real Estate Firm For Almost $24 Million

The Two North Shore commercial development on Manufacturers Road in North Chattanooga has been sold to a Pennsylvania real estate firm for  $23,983,363. Steve Arnsdorff, who developed the successful center from the ground up and has continued to manage it, said the deal closed last week. He said the sale for the property at 319 Manufacturers Road is to Stoltz Real Estate ... (click for more)

Lookout Valley Middle High School Closed Friday Due To Water Main Break

County school officials said late Thursday night that LookoutValley Middle High School will be closed Friday due to a water main break. Officials said, "This is an official message from the Hamilton County Department of Education to the parents, faculty, and staff of Lookout Valley Middle High School.  Please accept our apologies for the lateness of this message. "Due ... (click for more)

Thanks For Publishing The Stokes Photo Book

I pre-ordered the Stokes Photo Book and picked it up Wednesday . The covers and content are very high quality and contain photos you will not see anywhere else.  This book of photos is worth much more than $35.  I have seen many historic photos of my hometown Chattanooga, but this collection is amazing. My favorites are National Cemetery, Confederate Cemetery near ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)