Dr. Grey Stafford and for L.A. Zoo Curator, Mike Dee debate the pros and cons of governmental ivory destruction. Listen to the conversation and decide on which side you come down!
From Scientific American magazine:
The U.S. is not the first country to destroy its seized ivory. In 1989, Kenya responded to rampant elephant poaching by burning its stockpile. More recently, with poaching surging to record levels of 30,000 elephants or more a year, Gabon and the Philippines have destroyed their ivory, too. The U.S. ivory crush on November 14 followed President Obama’s July 1 executive order calling on government agencies to step up efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Concerns over the trade have been escalating not only because of the dramatic spike in elephant deaths but because of who is doing the killing. In contrast to the elephant poaching crisis of the 1980s, which resulted mainly from opportunistic hunting carried out by individuals, the current crisis is the work of transnational criminal syndicates that traffic in wildlife just as they traffic in humans, drugs and arms. Profits from the illegal sale of ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife products–a $19-billion-a-year industry–are now known to fund terrorist and other extremist groups.
Yet whether the destruction of ivory stockpiles will actually help stamp out the trade is a matter of some debate. Critics contend that it may actually have the opposite effect. By reducing the ivory supply, such events will drive the price up and thus stimulate the poaching of even more elephants, so the argument goes.