Philippines Destroys Remains of 850 African Elephants and Says No to Ivory Trade

ARREST-white-30kPhilippines destroys ivory

The Philippine Government crushed over five tons of confiscated ivory tusks from approximately 850 elephants worth an estimated US$10 million to show its support against illegal ivory trade. This is the first known mass destruction of elephant ivory outside of Africa, where the vast majority of the trafficked tusks originate.   The ivory stockpiles had been previously confiscated by Philippine authorities in numerous operations and were stored in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (DENR-PAWB), the agency that led the destruction, in Quezon City.  Although international trade in elephant tusks has been banned since 1989, the illegal trade of elephant ivory persists in China and Japan. The extremely high value of ivory is a motivating factor for crime syndicates and terrorist groups to engage in illegal trade. According to various reports, ivory can cost over $US 2,000 per kilogram on the black market or more $US 50,000 for an entire tusk. In the last four years, there has been a 1,500 percent increase in the price of ivory.  The U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Asia Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) Program and lead implementer FREELAND will assist the Philippines in the DNA analysis of elephant tusks at the Center for Conservation Biology of the University of Washington (UW). The assistance will give law enforcement agencies information on the origin and transit points of elephant ivory and help in dismantling criminal syndicates behind the poaching and trafficking of Africa’s elephants.  U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. said in a statement, “The U.S. Government shares the Philippine Government’s belief that the protection of our biodiversity is key to sustainable ecosystems and central to our vision of broad based and inclusive growth. We will continue our work to support national and local governments, private sector partners and communities to reduce the global demand for wildlife animal parts and incentives for poaching.”

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