News / Asia

Philippines Destroys Five Tons of Ivory

A steamroller is used to crush seized elephant tusks during a ceremony at the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines, June 21, 2013.
A steamroller is used to crush seized elephant tusks during a ceremony at the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines, June 21, 2013.
Simone Orendain
The Philippine government Friday began destroying more than five tons of confiscated elephant tusks.  The Philippines is one of the main stopovers on the illicit ivory trade route from Africa to China. 

The tusks were part of a stockpile that was collected over a 17-year period through 2009.  But this is only about half of what was originally confiscated.  Officials said the search and investigation continues for the nearly eight tons of missing ivory.  

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje hopes that destroying the tusks in a very public way will be a deterrent to smugglers. “This act is a strong statement to the rest of the world that the Philippines is serious and will not tolerate illegal wildlife trade,” he said.

An investigative report published by National Geographic Magazine in October found the Philippines was not only a major transit point for raw ivory, but that it was also a big consumer of religious icons made of the material.  

Investigative journalist Bryan Christy, who wrote the story, gave a presentation prior to the tusk destruction. “Wildlife trafficking is among the most profitable forms, perhaps the most profitable form, of illegal transnational crime because of the penalties," he stated. "The profits are good.  But the penalties are close to zero.”

Christy said in 1989 when Kenya burned 13 tons of ivory tusks, the act prompted CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species - to ban the ivory trade worldwide.  He says the ban worked until CITES allowed some ivory to be sold in Japan in 1999 and then in China in 2008.  Christy says China’s demand for ivory parallels its rising prosperity.

The National Geographic investigation found that ivory is mostly used for religious carvings in China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Christy says the ivory trade is a $50 million a year industry and may be much larger, since only about 10 percent of the trade has been traced.

Still, Lusaka Agreement Task Force Representative Bonaventure Ebayi was optimistic the public destruction of ivory in Manila could bring about a change on an even bigger scale than what happened in Kenya in 1989. “This is the first time that a consuming country decides voluntarily to destroy the ivory.  It is a stronger message,” he said.

Philippine environmental officials say the going rate for raw ivory is about $200 per kilogram.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kwhit190211 from: usa
June 22, 2013 3:25 AM
Back again, my wife is a Filipino and she tells me this is the way it is in the Philippines.

by: kwhit190211 from: usa
June 22, 2013 3:24 AM
And, the other missing 8 tons was already sold to the crooks by the crooks in office.

by: kwhit190211 from: usa
June 22, 2013 3:22 AM
To my way of thinking that roller isn't doing squat!! And, if it actually does something, what are they going to do to the pieces that aren't destroyed? I think that they would just glue the small pieces up, let them dry then make something out of that. My way of thinking that it was all staged just for show. After the news cameras leave, their just going to pick everything up & it will go to the illegal trades. Nothing really happened here, just PR!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs