Conservationists are urging European countries to follow in the footsteps of the U.S. and several Asian countries that have destroyed massive stockpiles of ivory recently, in a show of solidarity against elephant poaching.
The first European country to respond was France, which reportedly holds a reserve of 17 tons of ivory seized over the past 25 years. The country's ecology ministry announced that three tons will be crushed and then incinerated near the Eiffel Tower on Thursday, thanks to pressure from Paris-based environmental group Robin des Bois (translation: Robin Hood). The first crush is meant to be a ceremonial symbol; the rest will be destroyed at a later date.
"We are very satisfied that the French state has changed its doctrine; moving away from the stockpiling of seized ivory," Robin des Bois president Jacky Bonnemains told Reuters. "We hope that this new approach of systematically destroying seized ivory will be extended to rhino horn and other illegal animal products."
The county 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.