What’s the Latest Development?
This week, the Philippines will become the first ivory-consuming country to purposely destroy its stocks of ivory in response to an October 2012 National Geographic exposé revealing its role in the illegal ivory trade. With the exception of 106 pieces that will be returned to Kenya, and a few pieces to be reserved for training purposes, five tons of ivory, worth roughly US$6.5 million, will be crushed using industrial rollers. Mundita Lim, director of the government’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, says the act will “hopefully bring the Philippines’ message across the globe that the country is serious and will not tolerate illegal wildlife trade, and denounces the continuous killing of elephants for illicit ivory trade.”
What’s the Big Idea?
In 1989, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) passed a global ban on the trading of ivory, and as a result, elephant populations began to recover. However, that recovery has experienced a setback recently, due largely to increased appetite for ivory among newly affluent Chinese. As a major transit country, the Philippines was named as one of a “gang of eight” countries that were required by CITES to produce action plans by this past May. Interestingly, the five tons scheduled to be destroyed represents what’s left of past government seizures: Since 2005, at least six additional tons have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
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