Ivory Destruction In The United States, And Why Crushing Is Not Enough...

Back in June I was in Manila, Philippines, photographing the wildlife authorities there crush and burn five tons of ivory.

Last week I was in Denver, Colorado, observing the United States do exactly the same, except that this time they only crushed the ivory, but didn't burn it.

I think this was a big mistake.

Incineration is a final step to remove any lingering doubts that the crushed ivory will ever be returned to the market.

Once in full force, the crushing machine looked like a ivory waterfall.

Federal cops guarded the stockpile at dawn before it was destroyed.

This US Fish & Wildlife Service officer carried a tusk like it was his own baby. Compassion for a dead elephant, perhaps?

African 'art' curios.

Ivory trinkets and tusks await their fate next to the crusher in the background.

US Fish & Wildlife Service officials place the tusks in an elaborate pyramid prior to crushing.

The tusk pile and the crusher.

Offloading from a flatbed truck, a big perspex box full of small ivory trinkets and jewellery such as bracelets and necklaces.

Much of this ivory jewellery was seized from US tourists returning home from abroad with illegal ivory.

The United Nations of Trinkets; Asia, Africa and the Middle East in one image.

A Chinese Guanyin statue in a cardboard box, missing her head.

A tacky Japanese ivory Geisha doll.

Made in bloody Hong Kong, unfortunately.

According to estimates, 30,000 elephants a year are being slaughtered for their tusks.

Ivory gravel being shovelled by wildlife officials.

The ivory gravel will be used for 'education' purposes under the CITES agreement. And now the Association of Zoos and Aquariums will inherit the headache of secure storage from US Fish & Wildlife. The Zoos and aquariums have been instructed to make 'monuments' for elephant conservation education. Call me cynical, but I'm sure they will be seeing an upsurge Chinese mainland tourists (many of them armed with small pen knives or chisels in their pockets) come through their gates once these monuments to long deceased elephants are open to the public.

A wildlife official points out the problem in Congo, with a forest elephant tusk.

Crushed ivory.

A close up of crushed ivory.

A big piece of crushed ivory.

And finally, a couple of photos from Hong Kong. Taken at Star Company on Hollywood Road, by the escalator, to be precise.

These pairs of earrings made from so-called pre 1989 (ie pre-ban) ivory are tiny and worth around US$50 (the floral studs) and US$60 (the small elephants) respectively.

Just saying...!

ALEX HOFFORD : UNITED STATES IVORY DESTRUCTION PHOTOGRAPHER

All images and text © Alex Hofford / Image Solutions Ltd. 2011 | Web design in Hong Kong by Ugli © 2011