The U.S. government has crushed more than 907 kilograms of confiscated illegal ivory in New York's Times Square to raise awareness of the elephant poaching and wildlife trafficking crisis.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday's event in New York City would also crush “the bloody ivory market.” Animal advocates say the trade in ivory threatens to wipe out African elephants.
"We're trying to send a message that the value of ivory should not be in carvings and trinkets," said Edward Grace, deputy assistant director for law enforcement for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Hundreds of ivory trinkets were loaded onto a conveyor belt and into a rock crusher. The ivory dust was then trucked away.
According to Michelle Gadd, an African Program Officer at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, "Elephants are being poached at a rate that is unprecedented.”
She said, “We thought we had an ivory crisis in the 1980s,” but that the situation now is as serious or even worse.
To put it in perspective, Gadd said, “We only have about a half million elephants left and that's down from what was once 10 million elephants in 1900. So with only half a million left, the loss of 100,000 over three years is alarming."