Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services will destroy nearly six tons of African and Asian elephant ivory by crushing it, as ivory is very resistant to burning.
This is the first time the agency will destroy such a large accumulation of ivory, which has been confiscated over the last 25 years. Much of the ivory, consisting of tusks, engraved tusks and smaller ornaments, was collected and used as evidence in criminal and civil cases.
"We want to send a clear message that the United States will not tolerate ivory trafficking and the toll it is taking on elephant populations, particularly in Africa," said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in a statement.
The ivory was seized when smuggled into the country, on its way out of the country, or being unlawfully sold in interstate commerce. The 6 tons of ivory, the agency estimates, came from a couple of thousand elephants. As this ivory was confiscated, the U.S. considers it contraband and refuses to put a value on it.
The agency denies that crushing this ivory will increase the market value of ivory in the illegal market and also increase demand.
Currently there are just 100,000 elephants in the wild in central Africa. This number is extremely low compared to the one million of them who roamed the across same habitat 30 years ago. Earlier studies have estimated that two thirds of African elephants have been killed in a decade for ivory trade.