On June 19th, as most New Yorkers were sitting down at their work desks, something remarkable was happening in midtown Manhattan. Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the #IvoryCrush in Times Square saw one ton of poached ivory crushed in an event aimed at bringing attention to illegal elephant poaching and wildlife trafficking.
The ivory, seized from New York and Philadelphia in an undercover operation, was put on display in the iconic Times Square neighborhood before being placed on a conveyor belt, piece by piece, that fed into a huge mechanical crusher. If it seems a little extreme at first, the Fish and Wildlife Service no doubt wanted to make a critical point about poached ivory.
According to its website, the FWS stated:
"Crushing our ivory sends a message to ivory traffickers and their customers that the United States will not tolerate this illegal trade. This crush will also educate consumers, in the United States and around the world, and urge them not to buy products made with ivory that could be contributing to the poaching crisis."
Elephant poaching is at its peak today, and has reached a level that surpasses the species' ability to reproduce.
"The poaching crisis not only takes a toll on wildlife, it affects communities as well," the FWS website noted. "Insurgents and organized crime groups cash in on the money to be made from ivory, killing tens of thousands of elephants while gunning down park rangers who work to protect them."