New York City made headlines late last week by crushing nearly two tons of ivory jewelry, statues, and trinkets in an event held by the New York Environmental Conservation Commission in conjunction with Tiffany & Co and the World Wildlife Federation in honor of World Elephant Day on August 12. Officials aimed to demonstrate that the state and city are serious about putting an end to the global illegal ivory trade.
New York’s Second Ivory Crush
Notably, the event was the second time that New York City has held an ivory crushing, as a similar event was held in Times Square in 2015. In this most recent crush, nearly two tons of ivory from more than 100 slaughtered elephants was fed into a rock crusher in protest of the illegal ivory trade. The two tons of ivory was estimated to be worth more than $8 million and was collected during raids over the past three years. More than half of the ivory came from just one dealer, Metropolitan Fine Arts and Antiques, which eventually plead guilty to illegally selling ivory. As part of the guilty verdict, the store’s owners agreed to donate $100,000 each to the Wild Tomorrow Fund and the World Wildlife Fund.
Legal Aspects of the Ivory Trade
In 2014, New York became one of the first states to completely outlaw the sale, distribution, trade or purchase of any items made from elephant or mammoth ivory. This law eventually spurned other states to take action and drew attention to the continued plight of the world’s remaining elephants. It is estimated that nearly 100 elephants are slaughtered each day to meet the continuing demand for ivory. Consequently, the world’s elephant populations are in terrible danger of becoming extinct if the brutal ivory trade is not put to an end. Already elephant populations are continuing to drop to record levels, and challenges in conservation continue to worsen each year.
After the recent New York ivory crush, more than 270 tons of ivory have been destroyed by governments and organizations in 22 different countries. Animal conservationists believe that these ivory crushing events are important for raising awareness of the illegal ivory trade, and may help deter people from buying ivory. However, there are also critics who worry that destroying such large amounts of ivory could actually worsen the problem by decreasing the available supply, potentially leading to more elephants being slaughtered to meet the continued demand. Whether or not this last statement holds true remains to be seen. However, the definitive need to identify successful avenues to end to the global ivory trade is most important or else the day may come when elephants are completely extinct.