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$10M worth of smuggled elephant tusks destroyed

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CRUSHED At least 5 tons of smuggled elephant tusks worth an estimated $10 million are destroyed by a road roller in support of a global effort to stop the illegal ivory trade. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines—Environment officials on Friday led the crushing of some five tons of smuggled elephant tusks worth an estimated $10 million in a symbolic move to show the seriousness of the Philippine campaign to stop the “blood ivory” trade.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday destroyed the confiscated ivory using a road roller at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City. The shattered parts were to be incinerated at a government animal crematorium, officials said.

The destruction of the stockpile would also eliminate any opportunity for corrupt officials to resell the ivory.

“This act is a strong statement to the rest of the world that the Philippines is serious and will not tolerate illegal wildlife trade,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje told a crowd of foreign dignitaries, wildlife campaigners and local and international media.

Ivory can fetch from $1,000 to $2,000 per kilogram on the black market and more than $50,000 for an entire tusk, according to reports.

Bonaventure Ebayi, chair of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, an intergovernmental body on illegal wildlife trade based in Nairobi, Kenya, said the Philippine government’s action was a model that ought to be replicated in other parts of Asia.

The US Embassy’s economic officer, Heath Bailey, said the Philippines was the first “ivory-consuming nation” to destroy its stash of contraband ivory.

Bryan Christy, a lawyer and journalist who exposed the Philippines’ role as a consumer of religious icons and figurines made of ivory, was also invited to the event.

“This is the first country outside of Africa to destroy its contraband ivory. Nobody else has said we’re destroying our stuff. This is the Philippines saying ‘this is not money.’ ‘This is a crime, and we will not profit from the blood of elephants,’” Christy said.

Paje said the government’s decision to crush the ivory tusks was a reaffirmation of the country’s commitment to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

CITES is an international treaty developed in 1973 to regulate commercial trade in certain wildlife species, including the critically endangered elephants.

In 1997, the Conference of Parties of CITES cited the Philippines as a “trade route and transit country” for elephant tusks and identified it as one of nine countries of priority concern.

The other eight are Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, the 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.

Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Theresa Mundita Lim said the five tons of ivory came from illegal shipments into the country seized by the Bureau of Customs and other enforcement agencies from 1996 to 2009.

Based on records, she said almost 13 tons of ivory had entered the country from 1996 to 2009, but only a little over five tons were actually turned over to the DENR. With a report from AP


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Tags: Bryan Christy , DENR , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Elephant Tusks , Heath Bailey , illegal ivory trade , Ivory , Ivory trade , Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center , Ramon Paje , smuggled elephant tusks , Smuggling , “blood ivory” trade

  • rsunga

    The person who thought of destroying the ivory tusks is the “most
    stupid” idiotic,moron in the world. DENR
    should have sold the tusks instead and use the money to buy weapons for the
    AFP. Such a big waste.

    • NoWorryBHappy

      SIGURADO ka bang gagamitin ‘yan para pambili ng sandata ng AFP ?
      Eh. kung ‘yung malinis na pera nga na dapa’t na pambili ng mga sandata, eh, ginagawang PABAON, ‘yan pa ngayon. Ang sasabihin ng mga heneral naman ngayon, eh, galing naman sa nakaw, eh, walang kaso kahi’t kukurakutin din.

      • rsunga

        Kung laging ganyan ang pananaw at paniniwala mo sa
        sa AFP at gobyerno ay wala nang pag-asang aasenso pa ang Pilipinas. Buti nga ngayon ay matino ang presidente dahil ayaw niyang madungisan ang pangalan ng mga magulang niya kaya may pag-
        asang magagamit ang pera sa pangangailangan ng AFP imbes na
        sirain mo lang ang mga elephant tusk na hindi napakinabangan. Ganyan ang utak ng klase ng mga tao na super tanga. Buti nga ngayon under ni Pnoy ay nakabili ng isang dosenang brand new FA-50 fighter planes ang AFP di tulad ni Arroyo na isang second hand helicopter ang binili ng AFP na pinagkakitaan pa ng asawa niya.

      • NoWorryBHappy

        Ay, sori, rsungay.
        Agrid ako sa ‘yo.
        Matino ang presidente natin ngayon.
        Kaya nga pinasira ang mga tusks ng elepante.
        Because we are not the kind of people who profit from the
        miseries of others. Pero, hindi tayo agrid sa pananaw sa kultura sa AFP. Corrupt pa rin ang AFP. Enlighten me, plis.

      • rsunga

        Well, pasensiya na lang ako sa mga taong makitid ang utak.
        Ikaw pala ay isang klase ng tao na nagmamalasakit sa miseries ng mga ivory tusk
        smugglers at pati na rin ng mga iba’t-ibang smugglers sa mga puerto natin na
        nahuhuli ng gobyerno. Mali rin pala sa iyo ang pamimigay ng gobyerno ng mga
        smuggled items sa mahihirap at mga squatter families.At naniniwala ka na ang AFP
        ay corrupt dahil sa kagagawan ng ilang mga heneral kaya pati mga walang
        kinalaman ay damay na rin. Ang galing mong mag-isip kaya pasensiya na lang ako.

      • NoWorryBHappy

        Hay, naku.
        Mali talaga kung ipapamigay sa mga iskwaters ‘yan.
        Kasi, mamimihasa lang sila.
        Mantakin mo, ang kapitbahay namin na ang tatay ay naka dalawang BLISS na tirahan at isang bahay dahil sa pagiging iskwater. Ginagawang hanapbuhay ang pagiging iskwater.
        Kung hindi nagbebenta ng boto ay nag-raracket ng libreng bahay na ipinamimigay sa mga iskwater ng gobyerno. Leche ! Hayaan lumangoy sa baha ang mga ‘yan.

    • huseng_batute

      Selling the tusks would perpetuate the cycle. Patuloy pa rin na may papatay ng mga elepante.

      It is best that the tusks are destroyed.

  • Jay-Mar Monjas

    Behind that, there are more ivory tusks kept in their pocket. Just only “PAKITANG TAO lang” so that all the Filipinos clearly understand that the government is always focusing their mission to erase the corruption in our country. But that is GOOD PRACTICE, all officials please continue your goal or mission.

  • pasaway008ako

    naku, sinayang ang 10 million dollars gid!!!

  • nuke24

    kaya yan sinira instead na ginamit for educational purposes kasi di na nila ma-account..

  • jga94

    I am surprised a lot of posters here disagree with the destruction of the tusks. I am not one of them. I laud this move of the DENR– selling these confiscated tusks will only fuel the demand for them….it’s not like these are food which can be donated…these are non-essential items which only serve to satiate the greed and vanity of a few at the expense of endangered animals. Kudos….I just wish people who are responsible for this trade in this country are persecuted and put behind bars…..

  • WeAry_Bat

    Imagine every school public and private had a small piece of ivory stating where it came from then at the bottom is this line:

    “…9 tons of seized ivory were unaccounted for, while under the custody of Philippines officials, before being turned over to DENR.”

    MALAKING KAHIHIYA (ay walang hiya pala sila) kung bawat henerasyon ng mga bata mababasa yan at pag research nila, makikita nila ang mga pangalan ng mga tao at agency na mey hawak nung ivory.

    Destruction of evidence is still the best way for memory loss.

  • GustoKoHappyKa

    daming mukhang pera..nakakita lang $10million nagalit na sa gobyerno at bat daw sinira at gusto ibenta nalang.

    kung binenta yan..ang matutuwa yung bishop sa Cebu lang na mahilig sa ivory god nya



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