The country of Chad became the latest country to destroy its ivory stockpile today, with a 1.1 ton burn attended by the country's President Déby Itno, who also heralded in an initiative that will put $2 million to anti-poaching efforts. According to conservation group African Parks, the burn was a symbolic move meant to promote conservation of the country's elephant population, which has fallen from 50,000 individuals to 1,500 in the past 50 years.
The ivory burn on site at Goz Djarat, the town at the entrance to Zakouma National Park, the country's flagship national park, was witnessed by a delegation of Chadian cabinet ministers, the African Parks team that manages Zakouma, representatives from other NGOs and the media. The ivory burn formed part of Zakouma National Park's 50th anniversary event that also included the unveiling of a commemorative monument to the 23 guards slain on duty at Zakouma since 1998.
As we noted when the burn was announced, this isn't the first time Chad -- and other countries -- have sent a message against poaching in the form of a large-scale ivory destruction.
Chad had previously destroyed its stockpile in 2006, but has accumulated more confiscated ivory since then. The country follows in the wake of several others -- China and the U.S. each crushed a six-ton pile in the past few months, while the Philippines destroyed five tons last June. Last month, Hong Kong announced a plan to incinerate 28 tons over the next two years. And just a week ago, France became the first European country to destroy its stockpile, when it pulverized nearly 3 tons of ivory (a portion of its total) in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
ACTION GUIDE: Ivory
The ivory trade is the biggest driver of elephant poaching in the world, despite a global CITES ban on the sale of ivory since 1990. In 2012 alone, 22,000 African elephants were killed, often to supply a major consumer demand in Asia, especially in China. To avoid products that could help fuel the ivory trade, check out this guide by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the Unites States, there is also concern that "vintage" ivory (not from recent poaching) contributes to the ivory demand, and therefore poaching (see The Nature Conservancy for information about how most antique "legal" ivory is in fact not). To beome active in this issue, you can become in campaigns by World Wildlife Fund,International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Conservation Caucus Foundation.)