The U.S. has destroyed six tons of ivory it had seized, crushing the tusks of elephants in an effort to combat the world trade in the contraband.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had collected the tusks - some with intricate carvings on them - over the last 25 years. But on Thursday, workers pulverized the stash in an industrial rock crusher in Colorado in an attempt to curtail elephant poaching and cut the market for the tusks.
Experts say there is a $10 billion annual illegal business in animal trafficking, and the tusks that were destroyed represented 2,000 dead elephants. But an official with the conservation group Born Free USA, Adam Roberts, said the destruction of the tusks could help curtail that market.
"Anytime we can remove ivory from the marketplace it's a win for elephants. Because it suggests to the world that there isn't profitability to be had by selling ivory," he said. "And if there's no profitability in selling ivory, there's no profitability in poaching elephants.''
Hours before the tusks were destroyed, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is posting a $1 million reward to help dismantle a Laos-based criminal syndicate that poaches elephants for their ivory.