01/27/2016 02:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sri Lankan Government Destroys Ivory Cache


The call for nations to destroy their confiscated ivory stockpiles is still echoing around the world.

The latest heed of the call is from a nation that has long resisted the pressure to destroy its stocks because it had been reserving them for temples and religious buildings.

Today at 9 am local time at Galle face in Colombo, the Sri Lankan government will destroy 359 elephant tusks in a massive stone crusher, followed by a religious ceremony that will honor the slaughtered elephants.

Most notable among the cache are the tusks from a 2012 seizure from East Africa, valued at over US $3 million. The 300 plus tusks, confiscated right there in the Port of Colombo, was the largest consignment of tusks ever taken into custody in Sri Lanka. Officials have symbolically added 2 tusks from poached Sri Lankan elephants as well.

The destruction will ensure that these tusks will never re-enter the market for illegal trade of elephant ivory.


John Scanlon is attending event and will likely speak to the audience on the need to continue the fight to stop elephant poaching through enforcement and public awareness.

I am inspired by the response of more than a dozen countries to destroy their ivory stockpiles ever since the event in Denver in 2013 when the US Fish and Wildlife Service invited me and my IFAW colleagues to watch as they destroyed six tons of ivory.

VIDEO: Azzedine Downes speaking at the US ivory crush event in Denver, Colorado

The destruction events worldwide since Denver have collectively reduced more than 65 US tons of ivory to dust and ash.

Of course, this follows the joint announcement by China and the US last September to enact strong domestic trade controls that once in effect will represent near total ivory trade bans. China made its first announcement that it would phase out ivory trade at the Beijing crush of 662 kg of ivory in May 2015.

And just last week, Hong Kong, a special autonomous region of China well known as a trafficking transit hub, announced that it will actively "explore appropriate measures" to phase out the local ivory trade and impose heavier penalties on smuggling and illegal wildlife trade.

The march toward ending ivory trade and saving elephants from the brink of extinction continues, and we applaud Sri Lanka's important gesture of solidarity for the cause.