Droves of supporters readily give their elephant ivory over for crushing

c. IFAW/David Parry/PA.Today the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is crushing ivory to raise awareness of the poaching crisis affecting elephants, highlighting that on average an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory.

IFAW launched an ivory surrender inviting members of the public to donate their unwanted ivory to show their support for elephant protection. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people who have flooded our office with ivory tusks, figurines, jewellery and other trinkets. Many of our supporters have said how uncomfortable they felt having ivory at home, knowing that each piece of ivory represents a dead elephant. One supporter, who would prefer to remain anonymous; gave us tusks that their family member had obtained from a southern African elephant cull many years ago but who now donates to IFAW because she passionately believes elephants should be alive for future generations to enjoy.

We have also been very encouraged that the IFAW surrender has received the support of many politicians and enforcers, as well as celebrities such as Bill Oddie, Chris Packham and Twiggy enthusiastically endorsing the ivory crush.

A recent story in the Mirror entitled ‘The Elephant Slayer’  distressingly showed the level of suffering endured by elephants at the hands of hunters when they interviewed John Sumokwo, a convicted poacher.

In the piece Sumokwo graphically described how he killed elephants. “I remember the way the elephants scream when they die,” said the father of six, vibrating his tongue against the roof of his mouth to imitate the sound.

“When I killed the elephants, the others would shout. They were extremely distressed.

“They would run around looking for ways of defending the one I had attacked. I remember one young calf saw me kill her mum.

“She ran off for protection from other animals. My attacks were so frequent that the elephants could not mate and have calves. There were not enough male bull elephants left.”

I, like many of you, will be haunted by his harrowing descriptions of slaughter. The scale of the poaching crisis can feel overwhelming but there is hope and the tide is turning. IFAW’s ivory crush follows recent ivory destructions in the US, China and France with a similar event planned in Hong Kong, and importantly the UK Government along with HRH Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge are galvanising the international community into action by hosting the Illegal Wildlife Trade Summit in London on the 13th of February. Senior government officials from around 50 countries have been invited to attend, providing an unprecedented opportunity to influence world leaders to act to protect elephants, tigers, rhinos and other animals.

IFAW welcomes the UK Government’s leadership in tackling the current poaching crisis at an international level by focusing on improving law enforcement, reducing demand for illegal wildlife products and supporting the development of sustainable alternative livelihoods.

Click here to read the Mirror’s latest article on international wildlife trade and its UK significance.

At the summit IFAW would like to see attending countries committing to introducing a moratoria on ivory trade in countries where consumption is high; destroying their seized and stockpiled ivory; educating Chinese companies and their employees about the illegal wildlife trade in animal parts; and suspending future calls to sell ivory stockpiles.

In addition IFAW is urging those attending to prioritise enforcement of wildlife crime across country boundaries; improve the effectiveness of intelligence sharing between enforcement bodies; publicise all wildlife seizures and related court proceedings; and also to allocate funds for the development of alternative livelihoods.

Meanwhile, IFAW continues to work ceaselessly in China to end the demand for ivory and other wildlife products.

It’s time to end the cruel slaughter of elephants and other wildlife.

--TMS

For more information about IFAW efforts to stop the trade in elephant ivory, visit our campaign page.

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia