BEIJING, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, the Chinese Government destroyed over 6 tons of confiscated elephant ivory and ivory products in a symbolic act to help stop the illegal wildlife trade.
China's crushing of confiscated ivory is hailed by the international community. Witnesses to the ivory destruction included representatives from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, World Customs Organization, the Embassy of the United States in China and international conservation organizations like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org).
"I am absolutely delighted that the Chinese government has joined the international campaign to bring the illegal ivory trade to an end. The decision to crush confiscated illegal ivory is a landmark decision, sending a strong message to the rest of the world," said IFAW CEO Azzedine Downes, who attended the recent destruction of stockpiled ivory by the US government.
"Destroying confiscated ivory prevents it from re-entering the market and further stimulating poaching of elephants. More importantly, the momentum of ivory destructions from countries along the trade chain -- from elephant poaching countries to ivory demand countries -- clearly tells consumers everywhere that ivory buying is unethical and wrong," added Downes.
Poaching of elephants to supply the illegal ivory trade has reached epidemic proportions. More than 35,000 elephants may have been killed last year alone across Africa. According to a UN report, when populations of elephants decline by over six percent annually, that population is vulnerable to collapse. In many parts of Africa the killing of elephants for ivory is running at 11 to 12 percent of those populations.
"Reducing ivory consumption is the key to saving wild elephants in Africa," said Jeff Flocken, IFAW North American Regional Director. "Anti-trafficking efforts are also gearing up on this side of the Pacific. IFAW and other animal welfare and conservation organizations are working to ban the sale of ivory in the United States, with the goal of deflating demand in this market, one of the world's largest for illegal elephant products."
Flocken added, "The US Fish & Wildlife Service's November ivory crush was the first of its kind in this country and helped bolster momentum for similar events around the world; countries in Europe and elsewhere are also in talks to destroy their stockpiles. And the Obama Administration is on the cusp of releasing a comprehensive National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, expected out within the month, which is expected to include further measures to crack down on elephant poaching."
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare