When tons of ivory estimated at $85 million dollars was purposely destroyed in Central Park on August 3rd — the message to the world was clear. Elephants are off-limits and the illegal ivory trade should now be an ongoing target. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] partnered with some of the world’s most prominent wildlife conservation groups to go after retail outlets selling ivory products in New York City.
The crushed items from tourist shops [aka #IvoryCrush] included an array of merchandise made from ivory including tusks, trinkets, statues, jewelry and other decorative pieces.
Ivory has historically been hunted and collected by poachers who kill elephants for their ivory tusks — a practice, which threatens Africa’s endangered elephant population. Even prominent figures such as the president's son Donald Trump Jr. have been cited by the public with poaching violations.
The advocacy groups involved included the International Fund for Animal Welfare [IFAW] which lobbies against the ivory trade and the killing of elephants.
Recently, wildlife advocate and music legend Mick Fleetwood, as an IFAW ambassador helped pass a state bill in Hawaii last year that cracked down on ivory trafficking.
"In the last four or five years I've become part of a process . . . more desperately trying to do something, to whatever avail I can do. That's what this is about," Fleetwood told ABC News. Fleetwood added that his ex-wife Lynn, who stood by his side in Central Park, brought him into the fold as an advocate in their home state of Hawaii, one of the top three ivory markets in the U.S.
"Hawaii has passed legislation banning the sale of ivory," Jeffrey Flocken the IFAW North American Regional Director said. "These laws are going to stop ivory from coming in and being sold in the major markets that existed before.
In addition to the the New York DEC, IFAW and Wildlife Conservation Society, over a dozen other groups that work to save animals, with the support from Tiffany and Co., joined the event to raise awareness as well.
Several states in addition to Hawaii have enacted bans including New York, New Jersey and California. They’re all supporting the symbolic events like the ivory crush in Central Park reinforcing the belief it sends a powerful and emotional message about the dangers of hunting wildlife for trophies.
"Every piece of these [almost two] tons of ivory today that are crushed will never end up back out on markets, it won't be part of the problem," Flocken said. "It won't get to perpetuate this myth that ivory has value as pieces of jewelry and statues. The real value for ivory is on living elephants in the wild. And that's the statement that's being made today by Mick, by the people that are here and by the agencies."
Use the Hashtag
This event and ongoing initiative, which uses the hashtag #IvoryCrush on social media, was organized to call attention to the criminal practice. Please follow and support this worthy cause.
Primary Source: ABC