IFAW Destroys 257 Ivory Items for World Biodiversity Day

IFAW Destroys 257 Ivory Items for World Biodiversity Day
Friday, 22 May, 2015
Reims, France

In celebration of the upcoming World Biodiversity Day on May 22nd, IFAW crushed 257 ivory items it had been given by individuals as part of an experimental initiative launched on February 6th called “Je Donne Mon Ivoire” (I am giving up my ivory).

A year to the day after the French government destroyed 3 tons of illegal ivory, IFAW invited owners of raw or carved ivory to take an active role in the fight against poaching and ivory trafficking by turning in their own ivory so it could be destroyed.

IFAW received 257 ivory items over the course of two months. Under the supervision of a bailiff, the items were first crushed and then incinerated at Rémival, Véolia’s energy-generating waste incinerator in Reims.

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director of IFAW France and francophone Africa, explains: “On the day the whole world is celebrating biodiversity, these individuals are sending a strong message by choosing to destroy their ivory. They should be sincerely thanked for doing this in the name of protecting elephants, especially since this ivory often had sentimental value.”

Items that were destroyed included raw and carved ivory tusks, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, decorative items, a lamp, letter openers, a jewellery box, hair brushes, a hand-held fan, and more.

“In addition to the symbolic gesture, these items were given to us to prevent them from ever being sold on the market again and being considered commercially valuable. The act of destruction serves as a reminder that ivory is valuable only to elephants.  If we want to save the last remaining elephants in the world, we have to stop considering that ivory has any commercial value.”

This destruction follows in the wake of the French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy Ségolène Royal’s decision earlier this year to suspend all exports of raw ivory.

“Any trade or market for ivory, including online and legal markets, encourages poaching and stimulates demand for this product. This is why we encourage the French authorities to ban all types of ivory trade outright,” insists Céline Sissler-Bienvenu.

Over the past three weeks, the African Union, followed by the European Union, confirmed their intentions to produce their own action plans to fight against wildlife trafficking. On Wednesday, April 29th, the President of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso and his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Deby, incinerated all five tons of the Congolese stockpile of illegal ivory in Brazzaville.

Nearly 35,000 elephants are poached annually for their ivory, an average of one elephant every 15 minutes. Ivory seizures have continued to rise in recent years (10t in 2010, 23t in 2011, 38t in 2012, and 41t in 2013) and begun to implicate organized criminal networks.

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities closely behind drugs, all forms of counterfeiting and human trafficking.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Availability of limited legal ivory in China purchased from the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs.

Note to editors:

Professional pictures are available at www.ifawimages.com.

The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people. To learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade



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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu – IFAW France and francophone Africa Director
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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy