Ivory photo from Shutterstock

On Thursday, U.S. officials destroyed $10 billion worth of “blood ivory” at a rock crushing facility in Denver, Colorado. The 5.4 tons of confiscated material was collected over a period of 25 years, and it included thousands of tusks, ceremonial bowls, statues, and ornaments. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that the stockpile accounts for the lives of over 2,000 adult elephants. The pulverized ivory particles will be donated to a museum for display.

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Despite the international ban on ivory established in 1989, the demand for the material has reached an all-time high in Asia and the United States. According to TheGuardian, the UK-based Born Free Foundation estimates that poachers killed 32,000 elephants last year alone. On the black market, ivory sells for $1,300 per pound. Smugglers will go to great lengths to conceal ivory, including staining or covering it with leather. The overall size of seized tusks have gotten smaller over the years as poachers kill younger elephants, many of which are not allowed to reach reproductive age.

The crush is meant to deter poachers and send a strong message to consumers that the lives of elephants are worth more than their tusks. Only 300,000 African and 50,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild. With poachers committing atrocities such as dumping cyanide into watering holes to kill the animals, the international community is working hard to curb the demand for blood ivory.

+ US Fish and Wildlife Service

Via The Guardian

Images via the US Fish and Wildlife Service