ABOUT five tons of confiscated elephant tusks worth $10 million or roughly P420 million will be destroyed by the government to show its zero tolerance for illegal wildlife trade.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the seized ivory tusks will be crushed by a road roller and burned in the presence of foreign experts and anti-ivory trade advocates on June 21 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.
The 24-year-old International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) agreement banned the buying and selling of ivory to combat a massive illegal trade that caused dramatic declines in elephant populations throughout most of Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.
Elephants are listed in Appendix 1 of CITES, which means they are highly endangered and are banned from global trade.
The Philippines was one of the nine countries identified in 1997 by the Conference of Parties of CITES as priority of concern, particularly its role as a trade route and transit country for elephant tusks.
The other eight are Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, which are considered as major sources of ivory in illicit trade; China and Thailand as destinations of illegal ivory; and Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam as trade routes and transit countries.
Reports said the current black market price for ivory is $2,000 per kilogram.
Expected to witness the destruction of confiscated elephant tusks are representatives from the CITES Secretariat, the Nairobi-based Lusaka Agreement Task Force led by its chairman Bonaventure Ebayi, the National Geographic Africa, and member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Top executives from the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Customs, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Philippine National Police were also invited to attend the event, which is one of the highlights of the national celebration of June as Environment Month.
Sun Star, June 9, 2013
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