Sri Lankan government destroys ivory cache

The destruction will ensure that these tusks will never re-enter the market for illegal trade of elephant ivory.

The call for nations to destroy their confiscated ivory stockpiles is still echoing around the world.

The latest heed of the call is from a nation that has long resisted the pressure to destroy its stocks because it had been reserving them for temples and religious buildings.

Today at 9 am local time at Galle face in Colombo, the Sri Lankan government will destroy 359 elephant tusks in a massive stone crusher, followed by a religious ceremony that will honour the slaughtered elephants.

Most notable among the cache are the tusks from a 2012 seizure from East Africa, valued at over US $3 million. The 300 plus tusks, confiscated right there in the Port of Colombo, was the largest consignment of tusks ever taken into custody in Sri Lanka. Officials have symbolically added 2 tusks from poached Sri Lankan elephants as well. 

The destruction will ensure that these tusks will never re-enter the market for illegal trade of elephant ivory.

John Scanlon is attending event and will likely speak to the audience on the need to continue the fight to stop elephant poaching through enforcement and public awareness.

I am inspired by the response of more than a dozen countries to destroy their ivory stockpiles ever since the event in Denver in 2013 when the US Fish and Wildlife Service invited me and my IFAW colleagues to watch as they destroyed six tons of ivory.

VIDEO: Azzedine Downes speaking at the US ivory crush event in Denver, Colorado

The destruction events worldwide since Denver have collectively reduced more than 65 US tons of ivory to dust and ash.

Of course, this follows the joint announcement by China and the US last September to enact strong domestic trade controls that once in effect will represent near total ivory trade bans. China made its first announcement that it would phase out ivory trade at the Beijing crush of 662 kg of ivory in May 2015.

And just last week, Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China well known as a trafficking transit hub, announced that it will actively “explore appropriate measures” to phase out the local ivory trade and impose heavier penalties on smuggling and illegal wildlife trade.

The march toward ending ivory trade and saving elephants from the brink of extinction continues, and we applaud Sri Lanka’s important gesture of solidarity for the cause.


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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. Joseph Okori
Regional Director, Southern Africa and Program Director, Landscape Conservation
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
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
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy