ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Nearly two tons of trinkets, statues and jewelry crafted from the tusks of at least 100 slaughtered elephants are heading for a rock crusher in New York City’s Central Park to demonstrate the state’s commitment to smashing the illegal ivory trade.
The artifacts being destroyed include piles of golf ball-sized Japanese sculptures, called netsuke, intricately carved into monkeys, rabbits and other fanciful designs.
Many of the items are beautiful. Some are extremely valuable. One netsuke, depicting three men with a fish, is worth an estimated $14,000. A pair of elaborately carved ivory towers set to be ground into dust is worth $850,000.
But state environmental officials, who are partnering with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Tiffany & Co. for Thursday’s “Ivory Crush,” say no price justifies slaughtering elephants for their tusks.
“I can’t imagine who would want this on their mantelpiece,” New York’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Basil Seggos, said at an event in Albany last week showcasing $8.5 million worth of ivory artifacts confiscated by state investigators in the last three years.
“This so-called artwork that to me is a repugnant representation of a sick trade will be pulverized into nothing as a powerful symbol of the state’s commitment to enforcing this ban,” he said.
The sale of ivory across international boundaries has been banned since 1990, but the United States and many other countries have allowed people to buy and sell ivory domestically subject to certain regulations that gave smugglers…
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