1.8 Tons Of Ivory Destroyed In France Following Successful Campaign Encouraging People To Hand Over Ivory Items

IFAW and the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) organized a large-scale ivory destruction operation last week that aimed to stem the trade of ivory. The focus of the event was to raise awareness about the trafficking of ivory which is responsible for the deaths of thousands of elephants each year.

In 2015, IFAW launched the I’m surrendering my ivory’ campaign to encourage people to hand in ivory items, such as tusks, trinkets or jewelry for destruction. The campaign was a great success, and many people are still looking for places to dispose of their unwanted ivory.

Through this collaboration, law enforcement recognizes the importance of responding to private individuals wanting the option to dispose of their ivory objects. Since 2015, hundreds of pieces of ivory have been received by IFAW, OFB, and French customs mainly via surrenders from individuals, but also through seizures.

The decision was made to destroy this recent ivory stock to ensure that these items could never be reintroduced into the commercial circuit. The 1,800 kilos of ivory represents an estimated 180 elephants whose tusks were coveted for making “decorative items.” Above all, the quantity of items collected shows the importance of maintaining a secure system for collecting and destroying ivory in the future, under the responsibility of the State.

The major destruction operation happened in Reims, France, on November 28th, under the high patronage of Sarah El Haïry, Secretary of State for Biodiversity. The ivory was crushed and then destroyed by combustion.

“Estimated to be worth over 20 billion dollars worldwide, the illegal trade in protected species of wild fauna and flora is one of the most lucrative forms of trafficking. It is frequently the work of structured criminal organizations with a real strategy,” said Sarah El Haïry, Secretary of State for Biodiversity. “The challenge of disrupting and dismantling these organized crime networks can only be met by coordinating all the state forces involved in protecting wild species. These collective operations are intended to bring to justice eco-criminals who commit wildlife offenses and to seize tons of illegal products. My guideline is clear: zero tolerance!”

“The ecological planning implemented by the Government – of which the National Biodiversity Strategy that I will shortly be presenting is one of the deliverables – will inform the actions of all the sworn agents, military personnel, environmental inspectors, and magistrates who are fighting against this degradation of global biodiversity,” continued El Haïry.

“The exponential demand for collecting these objects since the first collection in 2015 demonstrates the real need to offer private individuals a solution to divest themselves of their ivory. Whether out of ethical conviction or because they are unable to sell it legally following the latest changes in regulations,” said Mia Crnojevic-Cherrier, Campaigns Officer at IFAW. “The ivory trade remains a major threat to elephant populations. Thousands of elephants are poached every year in response.”

“By destroying this ivory, we can take as much of it as possible out of the circuit to prevent any future sales, which would be illegal. As a player in implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the French Biodiversity Office is working hard every day in the fight against species trafficking. I am therefore delighted that we are contributing to this action, to the fight against the illegal ivory trade and its knock-on effects on elephant poaching,” explained Olivier Thibault, Director General of the OFB.

IFAW France is also committed to planting one tree in Zimbabwe for every kilo of ivory received to help restore the habitat of elephants, the destruction of which is one of the leading causes of the ongoing erosion of biodiversity.

The destruction operation was carried out with the support of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Command for the Environment and Health (CESAN), the Ministry of Justice, and IUCN France. French Customs also included its stock of ivory in this recent operation.

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