Belgium to Crush Entire Ivory Stockpile
This morning, on the inaugural UN World Wildlife Day, the Belgian government announced that it would destroy its entire stockpile of illegal ivory seized by customs. The ivory will be destroyed in a ceremony on April 9th in the presence of dignitaries from elephant range states and in collaboration with The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org). Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx made the announcement at the Belgian Museum of Natural Sciences at an event celebrating 30 years of Belgian involvement in CITES.
“The Belgian government should be saluted for taking a firm and public stand on ivory trafficking and working to save the world’s threatened elephants. Not only are we losing an elephant every 15 minutes but the ivory trade is undercutting law and order in elephant range states and enriching organized crime syndicates – the slaughter of elephants must be stopped,” said Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW’s European Regional Director.
Belgium is the latest country to destroy its stocks, following in the footsteps of France, the United States which recently destroyed part of its stocks in November 2013 and China—the biggest market for ivory—which destroyed 6.2 tonnes on January 6th.
The announcement comes just two weeks after the London Wildlife Summit where world leaders from almost 50 countries gathered to coordinate action against wildlife trafficking.
Seizures of illegal ivory in the world continue to increase: 24.3 tonnes in 2011, 30 tonnes in 2012, and 41.5 tonnes in 2013.
As part of an international initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity to fight this trafficking, IFAW trains law enforcement officials on the prevention of illicit trafficking of wildlife species in several countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. IFAW recently signed a memorandum of understanding with INTERPOL, the first ever signed with an NGO by the INTERPOL program on environmental crime. IFAW and INTERPOL have collaborated on many projects since 2005, including last year’s largest ever international operation to fight against ivory trafficking.
Note to editors:
Criminal Nature, about the threat to global security posed by the illicit trade of wildlife, is available as an attachment. The full report is available at http://www.ifaw.org/european-union/resource-centre/criminal-nature-global-security-implications-illegal-wildlife-tra-0
The ivory trade in numbers:
36,500 elephants killed per year – 100 elephants killed per day – 1 elephant killed every 15 minutes
Previous ivory crush :
US (November 2013) : 6 tonnes or 18 kg of ivory/million of inhabitants
China (January 2014) : 6,1 tonnes or 4 kg of ivory/million of inhabitants
France (6 February 2014) : 3 tonnes or 45 kg of ivory/million of inhabitants
Belgique (9 April 2014) : TBC on April 9th !