France destroys tons of ivory as part of international effort to fight illegal trade

This isn’t going to be a happy post. And I suppose it isn’t directly yoga or Ashtanga related.


Sunday morning we heard a report on NPR about France destroying millions of dollars worth of ivory confiscated over the past few decades.

Link to the NPR report is right here. And the Telegraph has additional details:

More than three tons of ivory worth around €6 million (£5m) were on Thursday pulverised yards from the Eiffel Tower in a public display of France’s commitment to an international crackdown on the illegal trade ahead of a key London summit.

Huge elephant tusks, some sculpted, were passed along a chain of French customs agents who dropped them onto a conveyer belt before they were crushed to tiny pieces in the first such public exercise in Europe.

The destruction of the ivory, from a stockpile confiscated over two decades, was designed to send a strong message to poachers and traffickers that preservationists hope will help stem the illicit trade that is threatening the elephants’ survival. The French action followed similar recent moves in America, Gabon and China, ivory’s biggest market.


In 2012, an estimated 22,000 African elephants were poached for their tusks, with the market price of ivory estimated to have doubled in the past five years to reach around £1,500 per kilogramme.

Elephant ivory and rhino horn can be worth more than illegal diamonds or gold, and the proceeds have used by rebel groups in African countries, such as al-Shabaab in Somalia and the Lords resistance army in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Prices have been rising since 2009, driven by demand in China, where the profits have attracted attention from criminal syndicates. But in a sign it is finally cracking down on the illegal trade, China publicly destroyed six tons of ivory last month while Hong Kong also announced its intention to destroy 28 tons of confiscated ivory starting this Spring.

The story goes on to point out why some people oppose the destruction of this ivory: It lowers existing supplies and thus increases the price, they say. And that is just more reason for poachers to continue killing elephants for their tusks.

The answer? Make it so no one wants ivory any more. The problem: That isn’t easy.

Posted by Steve