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China crushes six tons of ivory in symbolic gesture to help end illegal trade

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China crushed a pile of ivory reportedly weighing over six tons on Monday, in a landmark event aimed at shedding its image as a global hub for the illegal trade in African elephant tusks.

Clouds of dust emerged as masked workers fed tusks into crushing machines in what was described as the first ever public destruction of ivory in China.

The event in the southern city of Dongguan was “the country’s latest effort to discourage illegal ivory trade, protect wildlife and raise public awareness,” the official news agency Xinhua said.

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Surging demand for ivory in Asia is behind an ever-mounting death toll of African elephants, conservationists say, as authorities have failed to rein in international smuggling networks.

Experts believe that most illegal ivory is headed to China — where products made from the material have long been seen as status symbols — with some estimating the country accounts for as much as 70 percent of global demand.

Chinese forestry and customs officials oversaw the destruction, which was shown live by state broadcaster CCTV. It reported that the ivory weighed 6.1 tons and had been seized over a period of years.

“With measures like this we can still save elephants from being driven towards extinction,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of London-based conservation group Save The Elephants.

Some of the crushed ivory powder would be disposed of and some displayed in a museum exhibit, while the rest would be “preserved”, state-run China National Radio reported.

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The powder can be used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.

China was in March named by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as one of eight nations failing to do enough to tackle the illegal trade in elephant ivory.

CITES banned international ivory trading in 1989, but the environmental group WWF estimates that around 22,000 elephants were hunted for their tusks in 2012, with a greater number projected for the following year. There could be as few as 470,000 left, it says.

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Other countries have carried out similar exercises, with the US crushing six tons of ivory in November. The Philippines destroyed five tons of tusks in June, and Kenya set fire to a pile weighing the same amount in 2011.


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Kayleigh McEnany says she has no ‘data’ on whether Tulsa rally increased COVID — but city official says it likely did

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At Wednesday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was confronted with the fact that President Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma led to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Her reply was to plead ignorance: "I have no data to indicate that."

However, according to a health official in Tulsa, the pattern of cases indicates it is "likely" that it did just that.

"President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests 'likely contributed' to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday," reported Sean Murphy for the Associated Press. "Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday."

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New Hampshire Republican officials aren’t interested in attending Trump’s upcoming rally

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President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was supposed to be massive, but one of the main problems that came up for the team is that thousands and thousands of people signed up for tickets, who never attended. This time, they think they've figured it out, said the New York Times.

"Campaign officials believe they will be able to prevent the kind of ticket prank that helped turn Mr. Trump's rally last month," the report said, noting that the crowd was a "far smaller event than expected — but they still can't say for sure."

"Registering for a rally means you've RSVPed with a cellphone number, and we constantly weed out bogus numbers," campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh said. "These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking. What makes this lame attempt at hacking our events even more foolish is the fact that every rally is general admission — entry is on a first-come-first-served basis, and prior registration is not required."

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Native Americans, Polynesians shared DNA 800 years ago

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Native Americans and Polynesians bridged vast expanses of open ocean around the year 1200 and mingled, leaving incontrovertible proof of their encounter in the DNA of present-day populations, scientists revealed Wednesday.

Whether peoples from what is today Colombia or Ecuador drifted thousands of kilometres to tiny islands in the middle of the Pacific, or whether seafaring Polynesians sailed upwind to South America and then back again is still unknown.

But what is certain, according to a study in Nature, is that the hook up took place hundreds of years before Europeans set foot in either region, and left individuals scattered across French Polynesia with signature traces of the New World in their DNA.

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