China publicly destroys ivory tusks to discourage illegal trade
Monday, January 06, 2014 - 01:22
Jan. 6 - For the first time, China publicly crushed a part of its ivory stockpile - over six tons of it - in an effort to shed its image as a global hub for the illegal trade in African elephant tusks. Mana Rabiee reports.
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This scene has never happened before in public.
China crushing a part of its ivory stockpile.
It wants to discourage the illegal trade in African elephant ivory -- and shed its image as a global hub for that trade.
(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) YANG LIUYING, RESEARCHER AT THE CHINESE CUSTOMS ANTI-SMUGGLING TEAM, SAYING:
"We do not deny the fact that in recent years, there is an increasing trend of ivory being smuggled to China. We have to strengthen our efforts in this area."
Demand for ivory is soaring among China's emerging affluent class.
And with it, the illegal slaughter of African elephants for their tusks.
Some wildlife groups say over 90 percent of the ivory for sale in China is illegally sourced.
Representatives of wildlife trade watchdog groups say this landmark ceremony can't be underestimated.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (CITES), JOHN SCANLON, SAYING:
"It's an occasion when China can send, and is sending, a very powerful message both domestically to the Chinese people and internationally, that it is not prepared to tolerate the illegal trade in elephant ivory."
There's over six tons of ivory here.
It goes into a crushing machine at one end - and comes out the other end as worthless powder.
An official says they'll use the powder to make a statue…a warning to the public against the illegal ivory trade.
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