Friday, 29 January 2016

Sri Lanka destroys huge illegal ivory haul

Government publicly destroys biggest ever illegal ivory haul in bid to show poachers it will not tolerate the violent trade

Tuesday 26 January 2016 10.19 GMTLast modified on Tuesday 26 January 201610.22 GMT

 The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday publicly destroyed its biggest ever illegal ivory haul in what customs officials said was an attempt to show poachers that the island will not tolerate the violent trade.

More than 350 tusks were displayed at the Galle Face promenade in the island’s capital Colombo before being fed into a 100-tonne crusher to be sent to an industrial furnace.

The haul, which experts said came from African elephants slaughtered for their tusks, was seized at Colombo’s port nearly four years ago en route to Dubai from Kenya.

“There are some very small tusks which would have come from baby elephants,” Colombo customs director, Udayantha Liyanage, told reporters.

“We are trying to demonstrate that there is no value for blood ivory ... It is horribly cruel and the elephants suffer for about a week before they die,” he said.

Blood ivory is a term used by activists to describe tusks obtained illegally by slaughtering elephants.
The organisers observed a two-minute silence for the slain elephants before Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim leaders performed funeral rites for the animals.

Liyanage detected the container-load holding 359 pieces of ivory in May 2012 while it was in transit to Dubai from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, falsely labelled as storing plastic waste.

Officials confiscated the ivory in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna regulations, the customs director said.

The illegal trade in ivory from African elephants is driven by Asian and Middle Eastern demand for their tusks, which are used in ornaments and medicines.

Most Sri Lankan elephants do not have tusks and the animals are venerated and protected by law.

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