More than $4 million worth of ivory statuettes, jewelry and trinkets were crushed into powder in New York City’s Central Park Thursday to show that ivory belongs on elephants and not on a shelf.
The items were placed on a conveyer belt and fed into a machine that ground them into dust.
The works were seized by undercover investigators in New York City.
They included pieces that even the most ardent conservationist would admit are beautiful works of art — but works that never should have been created in the first place.
The environmental group Wildlife Conservation Center, which co-sponsored the event, say 100 endangered elephants were slaughtered to make the items.
“This one piece here, five juvenile elephants were killed to make that small piece,” said the conservation center’s John Calvelli as he pointed at an item.
The global ivory trade was outlawed in 1990, but a black market still thrives. Many countries that signed on to the ivory ban still allow domestic sales under certain conditions. But smugglers have taken advantage of those laws.
Jimmiel Mandima of the African Wildlife Foundation has advice for anyone thinking about buying a piece of ivory.
“Just in case you are contemplating buying ivory and you’re not sure of the legality of it, don’t buy it. And in fact, right now, our position is that there is no legal ivory to be sold,” Mandima said.