Ivory Crush May Cause More Problems Than It Solves

Ivory Crush Times Square New York

One ton of seized ivory, plus ivory from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, was crushed in Time Square.

SCI Foundation attended the Times Square Ivory Crush, an event where U.S. officials crushed a ton of ivory as part of a publicity stunt to focus on the problems caused by elephant poaching.

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) believes that crushing ivory sends a message to traffickers and their customers that the United States will not tolerate illegal trade. But it seems that the only thing these events crush is the hope that one day we will put a stop to poaching.

Crushing ivory stockpiles can be an effective awareness strategy, but many argue that it only perpetuates the problem. The crushing or burning of huge stockpiles may create the perception that ivory is rarer than it is, thus artificially driving up the price. The symbolism of the crush, though powerful, may not outweigh the potential harm.

Imagine if humans destroyed all stockpiled ivory today, which is over 800 tons. All of a sudden, the ivory being carried by live elephants becomes extremely rare and valuable.  When this value skyrockets as it has for rhinoceros horn, poaching pressure on elephants will escalate.

Further, the ivory rightfully belongs to the African nations in which it originated. It is not the USFWS’s to destroy. The crush essentially denies African nations the ability to benefit from their own natural resource. This is why we should not continue destroying elephant ivory and encouraging the world to do the same.–Caroline Jaeger


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