Gabonese President Ali Bongo set fire to over 5 tons of ivory in an attempt to make a statement about the countries tolerance for poachers, taking a stand against illegal ivory trafficking, reports BBC News.
The government burned over 10,600 pounds of the valuable tusks and carvings from their stockpile that has been seized from poachers over the past five years. This massive amount of ivory was said to be worth millions of dollars to ivory traffickers and required the killing of over 850 elephants.
“Gabon has a policy of zero tolerance for wildlife crime and we are putting in place the institutions and laws to ensure this policy is enforced,” Bongo said.
“We don’t want our children to inherit an empty forest. For that reason, we cannot allow this trafficking to continue,” he said.
According to Yahoo, conservation group WWF and TRAFFIC, which oversee global wildlife trade, performed the audit to ensure that Gabon was burning their full stockpile of ivory and not setting aside a portion to enter back into illegal trading as countries are known to do.
“If not managed properly, ivory stockpiles in the hands of government suddenly ‘get legs’ and move into illegal trade. Gabon’s actions effectively keep the ivory out of the way of temptation,” said TRAFFIC.
“We believe this is a strong signal of intent by Gabon against poaching and illegal wildlife trade — at a time of intense poaching pressure in central Africa, where the illegal killing of elephants for ivory is at record levels,” added the WWF.
It is estimated that tens of thousands of elephants are killed every year in Africa, and Gabon hopes to be the beginning of the reversal of that trend.
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