Secret Tusks

14 Nov 2013

Today, the United States destroyed 5.4 tons of ivory that has been seized over the last 25 years by authorities enforcing national and international regulations. An official notification has been sent to the secretariat of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The United States hopes that other states will also destroy their illegal ivory stockpiles.

They cannot count on France to do so. In a recent letter to Robin des Bois, the Minister of Ecology expressed his belief that countries undertaking the willful destruction of ivory seizures are emphasizing symbolic and high-profile action at the expense of actual substantive measures. In addition, the Ministry of Ecology refuses, “for security reasons”, to publicize an inventory of the stock of illegal ivory held by the French State and the museums of Natural History.

A compilation of evidence both anecdotal and from outside sources reveal that the Department of Ecology had reported a stockpile of 8 tons of seized ivory between 1998-2012. France, a country with political, logistical, and cultural ties to the African continent, has historically been a successful major transit country for elephant tusks and ivory. It is highly likely that that since 1975, since entry to CITES, French customs and other relevant authorities have seized dozens of tons of illegal ivory. But how much, exactly? And where are they? And how are they managed or distributed? Mum’s the word. The Minister of Ecology is behaving like the Minister of Defense.




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