Statistics show that approximately 96 elephants are killed each day due to ivory poaching, bringing these majestic animals ever closer to complete extinction.
To raise awareness for this global crisis and continue fighting the illegal ivory trade, more than 1 ton of confiscated tusks, trinkets and jewelry worth more than $6 million will be publicly destroyed in Central Park on Thursday, Aug. 3, nine days before annual World Elephant Day.
“People need to understand the impact of what they’re doing when they buy a piece of ivory,” said John Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society and director of 96 Elephants. “It’s very sad — these pieces of ivory represent hundreds of elephants that were killed.”
A contest was held for the public to help destroy the ivory, which will be placed on a conveyer belt and fed into a rock crusher. The fragments will then be held by the city’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and Calvelli said the WCS and DEC are in talks on how to use them for education.
The ivory was seized in New York, which was the largest U.S. market for the illegal ivory trade until legislation banned it in 2014.
Calvelli said data shows criminal organizations within Africa that have global reach use ivory as bush currency to buy weapons and other things.
“We work on the front lines in many countries where these last remaining elephants are, and these laws we’re working on, like the one here, make it much more difficult for these criminal syndicates to sell the ivory,” he said.
It is not illegal to own ivory, and it can still be legally sold in New York with documentation that the item is an antique. Small amounts found in musical instruments is also acceptable.
The main takeaway for Thursday’s event, Cavelli said, is “that ivory should remain on elephants. Should these majestic animals be killed for a trinket?”
To attend the Aug. 3 ivory crush in Central Park, visit WCS.org/96-elephants.