Philippines Trying to Decide Whether to Burn, Crush or Donate $10 Million Worth of Ivory | Smart News | Smithsonian

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Philippines Trying to Decide Whether to Burn, Crush or Donate $10 Million Worth of Ivory

The 5 tons of tusks are scheduled to be crushed by road rollers on June 21

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Photo: kibuyu

Last year, Gabon made international headlines when the country held a giant bonfire of 10,000 pounds of elephant ivory worth around $1.3 million. The stunt, National Geographic reported, was intended to ensure those tusks never made their way to black markets and to deter would-be poachers.

This month, the Philippines – where many illegal wildlife products pass through or end up – decided to hold its own tusk-burning demonstration of a cache of confiscated ivory worth around $10 million. But almost immediately, Scientific American reports, environmental groups began to protest on the grounds of clean air.

Objections emerged almost immediately after Page’s announcement. The EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental groups filed a complaint that burning the ivory would be illegal under the country’s Clean Air Act and that the event would send a message that open burning of trash is acceptable. Secretary Page accommodated that request.

As for the 5 tons of tusks, they’re scheduled to be crushed by road rollers on June 21. But now, yet another protest is in motion. A governmental representative argues that the tusks’ shouldn’t be destroyed but instead donated to schools, museums and other educational institutions, Inquirer News reports.

According to the lawmaker, ivory tusks should not be likened to other contraband such as illegal drugs and pirated CDs, since the latter bring no benefit to the public and could not be used for educational purposes.

“These are priceless treasures that will be put to waste if we destroy them,” he said.

With the recent rampant theft of ivory and rhino horns carried out by professional criminals throughout Europe’s museums, however, it is unlikely that the elephant tusks would remain in elementary schools’ show-and-tell boxes for long before they wound up back on the black market. 

 

More from Smithsonian.com:

$2 Million in Ivory Seized from Manhattan Jewelers 
New Forensics Tool for Catching Elephant Poachers 

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