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

Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

IS Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' 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.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs