6 tons of confiscated ivory crushed in Denver to send worldwide message

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- The U.S. is trying to send a message to poachers and smugglers across the world. And it's happening right here in the Denver metro area.

On Thursday morning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed more than six tons of confiscated ivory at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to support a fight against a $10 billion industry.

All that ivory was stored at the Federal Center in Lakewood. Federal officials hauled it to Commerce City Thursday morning. The ivory was then destroyed with rock crushers Thursday afternoon.

The six tons that was destroyed is the bulk of the country's "blood ivory" stockpile.

Officials say the confiscated ivory piled up during the past 25 years. The items were seized from smugglers, traders and tourists at U.S. ports of entry after a global ban went into effect in 1989.

Experts say elephant poaching is at an all-time high, with up to 50,000 elephants in Africa killed every year for their tusks.

“It's really a tragedy to think that a majestic African Elephant could be regulated to nothing more than piano keys or jewelry around one's neck,” Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA, said. “But that's still happening today.

“We have to send a clear message to poachers and smugglers around the world that ivory is not meant for the marketplace.”

Officials say elephant poaching continues to be problem because of growing demand in the United States and in Asia.

It's seen as a status symbol among the newly rich in China. A pound of ivory sells for $1,000 on the streets of Beijing.

Groups like Born Free USA say a tougher global ban on the ivory trade could dry up the markets and bottom-out the prices, and that's something they're still lobbying for.

The ivory that was crushed Thursday represents roughly 2,000 slaughtered elephants. It will eventually be displayed to raise awareness.



  • KW

    if anyone has actually been to Africa, you’ll quickly realize that none of the citizens of any of the countries on that continent consider the elephant to be “majestic” or desirable. The elephants are a nuisance to the people because they continually trample crops and invade the gardens that people in Africa rely on to survive. The quality of life is such that the villages and people cannot afford the necessary resources that would enable them to mount a proper defense against the animal. This article accomplishes nothing as the people who “poach” these “majestic” creatures cannot even afford a television or a computer to be the least bit aware of this news.

  • Disgruntled

    Dump it all onto the market cheap thus flooding the market. Oversupply = death of the industry. Typical response from the Govt, make the problem worse when the solution is very simple.

  • Donald Giarrusso

    The destruction of ivory is the height of stupidity. Not only will the price go up and lead to more poaching but it also discourages the indigenous people to protect their animals as a valuable resource. Until the African people value the ivory bearers, these animals will only have value to poachers. The solution to poaching of any species is economic. It is money that talks. Elephants and other ivory bearers must be valuable to those who live among them–not American bleeding hearts who have had their sense of nature determined by Walt Disney.

  • Renfru Muldoon

    “It’s really a tragedy to think that a majestic African Elephant could be regulated to nothing more than piano keys or jewelry around one’s neck,”

    Try ‘relegated” instead of regulated!

  • Fast45

    32,000 elephants died for their ivory … and the best, smart decision from our government is to crush it. Exactly how does that honor their memory or help future elephants?

  • Annie J

    The choice to crush the tusks was moronic.
    Then put crushed tusk powder in a museum.
    Brilliant! Poachers should have been incinerated
    and their remains put in an exhibition. Much
    more effective.

    Too bad the actual message sent is that
    poachers are thieves and the decision of how to
    discourage poachers was nothing less than
    imbecilic. Please print the names on a plaque by
    the ivory dust of all those who voted to
    burn the beautiful, majestic ivory that
    is treasured and rare, That’ll sure show them!! Half of the
    displays in the most impressive museums
    around the world had been stolen, found, stloen
    retrieved multiple times… Therefore, making
    item and history intriguing into perpetuity.

    By your logic all museums would have boxes
    of ashes, with labels defining contents!

    Just when we thought people could not be
    more ridiculous. Someone please recommend
    these folks be given the very “distinguished”
    Darwin Awards.

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