I grew up in New York City and can attest to its vibrant and exciting atmosphere. But, never in my wildest dreams as a kid did I imagine being present while the US Fish and Wildlife Service poured a ton of confiscated elephant ivory into a rock crusher in the middle of Times Square in its second significant public demonstration against the international ivory trade.
Today's crush follows not long after the recent one in Denver, Colorado, where some 6.5 tons were pulverized in the same manner. Any destruction of seized wildlife contraband - whether here, or in Africa, or Asia, or Europe - should serve as a powerful reminder that only elephants should wear ivory and that there's no room in the world for commercialization of these wildlife products.
In some respects, today's crush was awesome. It was awe-inspiring to see so many people come together for this single message of wildlife conservation. But, I was also awestruck at each piece of ivory loaded on the conveyor belt for its final demise. Each of those pieces represented a strong bull elephant roaming alone in the savannah of Africa. It represented mothers, grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters, aunts, and cousins, all living together in their matriarchal society for decade after decade. Each of those pieces represented the loss of one of those animal's lives, unceremoniously, and for little more than commercial greed: the desire for an ivory bracelet, a piano key, or chopsticks.