United States Emerges as Big Ivory Market, Seeks Global Ban
Internet sales put Americans high on the list of consumers. Washington offers leadership to ban all domestic sales, build global networks of enforcement.
Decorative carved ivory was piled high for destruction at the National Wildlife Property Repository at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colorado in November, 2013. It was a first public step to curb the U.S. love of ivory piano keys, letter openers, chess pieces and jewelry.
Media coverage of the Fish and Widllife Service crush was designed to call for an end to domestic sales of antique and new ivory. 'These trinkets ... actually were a function of an animal dying in the field," said a State Department official. "We have some work to do."
More than 50 nations gathered in February with Prince Charles and British Foreign Secretary William Hague to sign a pledge to prevent poaching. The hosts of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London said tens of thousands of elephants and more than 1,000 rhinos were killed last year.
Former National Basketball Association star Yao Ming was the headliner in an film documentary that appeals to Chinese consumers to stop collecting ivory. In his anti-poaching campaign, Ming was filmed viewing the carcass of an elephant killed for its tusks in Kenya's Samburu region.
Chopsticks carved from an elephant's ivory tusks are still popular in China. Customs agents in Hong Kong seized 758 chopsticks, 127 bracelets, and 33 rhino horns on November, 2011. The street value was estimated at $2 million.
Kenya Wildlife Service officers hold black rhino horns that were part of a shipment of 16 elephant tusks taken from smugglers trying to fly them to Bangkok in 2009.
Nguyen Huong Giang demonstrated in her Hanoi apartment in 2012 how to grind rhinoceros horn with water to mix a liquid she drinks to reduce the effects of too much drinking the night before or alleviating her seasonal allergies. Others in Vietnam think it will cure cancer and other debilitating or fatal illnesses.
The technician at the controls of a Hong Kong chemical treatment plant control room monitors the incineration of 28 tons of ivory in March, 2014. The process could take a year, according to some officials.
Hunters buy special permits from some African governments to hunt large wildlife on a restricted basis. Fees sometimes help fund animal conservation progrems. When the Dallas Safari Club auctioned a permit to hunt an endangered black rhino, the FBI investigated death threat claims. The club's executive director, Ben Carter, (right), was photographed with a wildlife artist at the club's January, 2014 show.