Philippines "to destroy illegal ivory stockpile"

Featured South East Asia - June 21st, 2013

Philippine authorities are set to destroy more than five tonnes of seized elephant tusks in an attempt to polish its tainted image as one of the world’s worst hotspots for illegal ivory trading.

Five tonnes of elephant ivory will be crushed using road rollers Friday, reports AFP. The move is aimed at sending a strong signal that the Philippines is taking firm action against illegal ivory trade, and will also remove any possibility of seized tusks finding their way back into the black market.

“We want to send a message to the world that… we are very much against the illegal ivory trade,” said Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the government’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

A total of 13.1 tonnes were seized at Manila’s port and international airport after being smuggled in from Africa in 2005 and 2009. Most of the government-held ivory stockpile was stolen over the years, according to AFP.

The Philippines is the first country in Asia to destroy its multi-million dollar stockpile of “blood ivory”. But global wildlife trading networks remain skeptical of the destruction of ivory stockpile.

“While destroying ivory puts it out of temptation’s way, an essential element of such an act is that the stockpiles are fully and transparently audited so that it is clear what ivory is being taken out of the system and where it originated – only then can outside observers have real confidence in the integrity of the ivory removal,” said Dr. Colman O. Criodain, WWF’s wildlife trade policy analyst.