ivory is obtained from the tusk of elephants and there is a huge demand for artistically carved items made out of ivory. Such items used to, once, be a craze but are now banned because laying hands on the tusk means the animal has to be killed and that is inhuman. Therefore, New York City decided to destroy nearly two tons of ivory worth about $8 million to pass on a message that slaughtering of elephants for the sake of ivory must stop.

This was done in full view of the public at the “Ivory Crush” event, which was timed to precede World Elephant Day on August 12.

It was the second such event in the city, the previous one was in the Times Square in 2015. As to the first such exercise in the United States, it was held in Denver in 2013.

Magnitude of the problem

According to New York Times, the ivory is converted into works of art by experienced craftsmen and fetch high prices in the international market but, the fact remains that the ivory comes from an elephant after it is killed. Poachers slaughter the animals and saw off the tusk that sells at a premium. Carcasses with missing tusk are common sights in the forests of Africa. Incidentally, the carvings that have now been destroyed were confiscated in recent crackdowns on ivory trade and involved the slaughter of at least 100 elephants.

The ivory products that have been destroyed were recovered over the past three years and New York City accounted for most of it. This has been informed by Basil Seggos, the commissioner of the environmental conservation agency. Trade in ivory products is a major problem and unofficial estimates on a number of elephants slaughtered daily in Africa for tusks is believed to be in the region of nearly 100.

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Action taken by other countries

Apart from the United States, other countries have also taken action to discourage promoting of products made out of ivory because it must be remembered that the tusk is an integral part of an animal that weighs several tons while the tusk weighs hardly a few kilograms. It is a crime to kill an animal for such gains and the global community has realized that the evil must stop.

US Aid has revealed that in June 2013, the Philippine Government crushed over five tons of confiscated ivory tusks from approximately 850 elephants worth an estimated $10 million to express support against illegal ivory trade.

On 19 April 2016, Cameroon incinerated 2000 kg of elephant tusks and more than 1753 art objects made of ivory seized from traffickers over the years. This is as per traffic.org.

A report in Scientific American says that on April 30, 2016, Kenya had reduced to cinders approximately 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory which was almost all of the country's total stockpile.

New York City was among the first states in the U.S. to take action in 2014 against the sale, purchase, trade or distribution of items made from elephant and mammoth ivory and rhinoceros horns and the destruction of ivory products in the Central Park is proof of the city’s commitment to a noble cause.