Not long after the US destroyed a multi-million dollar cache of ivory, carved or otherwise, China is following suit, by destroying six tonnes of the invaluable tusks.
China has unfortunately been at the forefront of a very destructive streak, with poachers going to infinite lengths to procure ivory, rhino horns, shark fins and other animal parts, including tigers, which is posing an incredible threat to wildlife that end up in newly rich Chinese 'customers'.
Just last year, 35,000 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory. Almost all of the tusks end up in China and Vietnam, where ivory is a traditional status symbol.
This large scale event in China, is a welcome sign that the country is trying to shed both the image of the insensitive receptacle of all wildlife parts, but also willing to sensitize its own citizens to the international plight to protect animal species.
China has been at the forefront of animal conservation with its incredible effort to save its own Panda bears. It is therefore even more important that China not look as self serving in expending so much capital and effort on their own species, while allowing its own citizens to own or acquire tusks or other animal parts that are endangering species in other parts of the world.
Ivory is now approaching 2,000$ per kg in value. In the black market, this is more valuable than gold. And what poachers do to get the ivory, or rhino horns, is now comparable to guerilla warfare. Elephants and rhinos are hunted with helicopters and high powered rifles, often by mercenaries who were at one point part of shadow armies or government contractors.
Although a group of US Navy Seals has undertaken the task to contrast these activities with their own pushback in the African savannah, only punitive measures in the countries that receive the loot will stop the trade.
Unfortunately, China is at the epicenter of the demand. With increasing wealth being created in China's economic boom, more and more people are vying for the expensive status symbols.
The stockpile burned by Chinese authorities is part of a much larger, undisclosed, cache, which was intercepted by customs officers and from traditional ivory carving shops in mainland China.
Source : Al Jazeera/ 1.6.14