Hong Kong began to demolish its 30-ton stockpile of confiscated ivory on Thursday, becoming the latest country to stand up against poaching and wildlife trafficking. One of the world's largest ivory stockpiles, the move was seen as the latest blow to the ivory trade -- one of several that seem to indicate that the tide is turning for elephants in China.
Authorities burned the first one-ton batch of ivory ornaments in a rotary kiln, and will continue to destroy the rest over the next year. The ash left after incineration will be dumped in a landfill, while about 1.6 tons of ivory will be kept for educational or scientific purposes.
Ivory can sell for up to $2,400 a kilogram in China. The demand is so great that poachers kill approximately 35,000 elephants every year for their tusks.
But the recent surge of countries publicly destroying their ivory stocks -- the U.S., Philippines, France, Belgium and China all included -- gives hope that an international crackdown on the trade will help crush the demand.