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China Destroys 6 Tons of Illegal Ivory

Workers destroy illegal ivory in Dongguan, southern Guangdong province, China, Jan. 6, 2014.
Authorities in China have destroyed six tons of illegal ivory seized from smugglers, the first such public destruction of the country's stockpile.

Journalists and animal rights activists were on hand Monday in the city of Dongguan, as machines crushed piles of contraband that included large elephant tusks and finished carvings.

China is the world's largest market for smuggled ivory. The material is seen as a status symbol and is used both for decorative objects and in traditional Chinese medicine.

Environmental activists say the public destruction sends a powerful message to would-be smugglers and consumers that such trade will no longer be tolerated.

International ivory trading was banned in the 1980s in an effort to protect elephants, tens of thousands of whom are killed by poachers each year for their tusks.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species last year named China among eight nations failing to do enough to fight the import of illegally smuggled ivory.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.