U.S. Crushes 6 Tons of Ivory, Some of it Exquisitely Carved, to “Send Message” to Poachers – Does This Make Sense?

Here’s an interesting video of the US taking 6 tons of confiscated ivory to Africa to crush it. The purpose was to “send a message” to poachers.

The entire worldwide elephant population is 500,000. They are vanishing at a rate of 50,000 per year, just for their ivory.

A couple of people sent me this video, Reader Michael was first.

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Link if video does not play: U.S. crushes 6 tons of confiscated ivory to send message to poachers

Africa’s elephants are being slaughtered at a record pace by poachers who hope to get rich by selling their ivory tusks.

The U.S. has been trying to stop it. And today the feds sent a powerful message — by gathering all the ivory they have seized in the past quarter-century and bringing it to a wildlife refuge in Colorado.

Where millions once roamed free across Africa, the numbers of elephants have plummeted because of poaching to about 500,000.

Poaching was the source of six tons of illegal ivory confiscated by U.S. officials, from raw tusks to exquisitely carved statues.

Robert Ruggiero, who runs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s anti-poaching effort in Africa, says the poachers will stop at nothing to get the ivory tusks. “Even poachers who are killed are readily replaced. There’s an endless supply of people willing to take those risks,” Ruggiero said.

The soaring demand comes mostly from newly rich Chinese, who see ivory as a status symbol. A pound of ivory now sells for more than $1,000 on the streets of Beijing.

The Math

1 ton = 2,000 pounds
6 tons destroyed
Street price = $1,000 pound
6 * 2,000 * $1,000 = $12,000,000

$12 million dollars is not a lot to the U.S. But it is a lot to Kenya.

Carved Ivory

carved ivory

Carved ivory is surely worth a lot more than raw ivory. 10 times more? I don’t know.

Unfortunately there was no breakdown of how much carved ivory was crushed, but the video showed rooms of it being boxed for destruction. For the sake of argument, let’s just assume the entire lot could have fetched $50 million at auction.

I have a simple question: What if instead of crushing that ivory, the US auctioned the ivory with all proceeds going to African nations for anti-poaching efforts?

How many people could Kenya have hired for $50 million? Wouldn’t that have done more for the elephants than crushing it?

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