Aug. 3 (UPI) — New York state and the Wildlife Conservation Society on Thursday partnered to crush nearly 2 tons of confiscated illegal ivory in Central Park.
Wildlife advocates used a rock crusher to obliterate delicately carved elephant tusks and figurines “to send a strong message to the world that New York state and its partners will work tirelessly to end wildlife crimes that threaten to wipe out African elephants and a host of other species around the globe,” a release from the WCS said.
New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and Tiffany and Co. also took part in the event.
“These actions make it clear that in New York, we condemn the depraved, violent and illegal industry that is ivory sales,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “The ivory crush along with our vigilant enforcement efforts take us one step closer to ending this senseless slaughtering of animals — I urge other leaders across the nation and across the globe to join us is working to protect these magnificent threatened species for generations to come.”
In 2014, Cuomo signed a law to prevent the trade of illegal ivory by strengthening criminal and civil penalties for buyers and sellers. The law targeted elephant and mammoth ivory sales, as well as rhinoceros horns. Antiques at least 100 years old and containing a small amount of ivory were exempt.
Since the law was enacted, the DEC has targeted 16 companies and 31 individuals, and seized more than $10 million worth of illegal ivory. The street value of the ivory destroyed Thursday was an estimated $8.5 million and represented more than 100 elephants, the WCS said.
Wildlife organization TRAFFIC says New York’s new law has dropped it from first to third among the leading markets for illegal ivory in the United States.
“We cannot sit idly back and accept the rapidly vanishing population of elephants around the world. While there is no swift solution to this crisis, sustained advocacy, stricter laws, and aggressive prosecution can and will drive down the demand for ivory,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
African elephants, which are killed for their tusks, are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.