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Philippines destroys captured ivory to intimidate poachers

June 24, 2013

Ivory was long considered one of the most elegant animal-derived materials, and objects such as jewelry and piano keys that were made with it are highly valued. However, this led to large-scale hunting that endangered the animals - including walruses, narwhals, elephants and rhinoceroses - and ivory trade is now illegal in many parts in the world. The Philippines is one nation that has served as a hub for black market ivory sales. The country's government recently publicly destroyed five tons' worth of ivory tusks that had been confiscated from captured poachers over a 13-year period, as a public message to ivory pirates, according to The Wall Street Journal. This event may prompt conversation among conservation and animal activists around the world using a prepaid phone card.

Ramon Paje, secretary of the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), personally attended the destruction of the ivory, accomplished using steamrollers and backhoes, and claimed that this was a public protest against the slaying of African elephants - the primary source of poached ivory that arrives in the nation. He told the news source, "The Philippines will not be a party to the massacre and we refuse to be a conduit to this cycle of killing."

NPR reports that the destruction of tusks is not a stunt. Unless they are completely smashed, there is still a chance that corrupt civil servants may steal confiscated ivory and propagate the illegal enterprise, which is stated to lead to the killings of about 25,000 elephants every year.

Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the country's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said she hoped this would also raise awareness among Filipino citizens. "If only one child realizes here in the Philippines, what he's seen on TV or books are actually real animals, and if he tells his parents, 'Please don't buy that ivory,' that's good enough impact for us," Lim explained, according to NPR.

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