Two tons of illegal elephant ivory crushed in Central Park

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Thursday, August 3, 2017
Two tons of illegal elephant ivory crushed in Central Park
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Shirleen Allicott has the details on the crushing of ivory in Central Park to deter the sale of it.

CENTRAL PARK, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York City officials sent a loud and clear message to the illegal ivory trade, as they crushed nearly two tons of ivory in the middle of Central Park Thursday.

It was the sound of justice for elephants. The ivory pieces included trinkets, statues and jewelry crafted from the tusks of at least 100 slaughtered elephants.

Many of the pieces come from the largest ivory seizure in the state's history, carried out last September.

"If you're thinking of profiting from the sale of elephant ivory think again, because our state is closed for business," said John Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Three years ago, the governor enacted tougher laws to crack down on underground ivory sales. Thanks to the latest undercover operation, nearly $10 million worth of ivory artifacts are off the streets.

"It is a major source of funding for gangs, terrorist organizations," said Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Poachers kill an estimated 96 elephants for their tusks every day in Africa.

"What we have seen in the last couple of decades is a decrease in a serious way the elephant population of what used to be well over 1.3 million elephants to now about 400,000 plus," Jimmiel Mandima with the Wildlife Conservation Society said.

Officials say New York remains one of the top markets for elephant ivory in the country.