According to an AP article this week, Hong Kong has begun incinerating its 28-ton stockpile of confiscated ivory. The leftover ash will be dumped in a landfill. The article states that China is doing this “to show that it’s serious about cracking down on an illegal wildlife trade that is devastating Africa’s elephant population.” Apparently ivory can go for nearly $2,400/kg in China, meaning that the country is willing to burn up over $60 million to make a statement.
While it’s not uncommon to destroy confiscated ivory, indeed Hong Kong’s burning follows similar demonstrations in the US, France, and the Philippines, the Hong Kong stash is the largest stockpile ever to be destroyed.
Exorbitant acts of waste can be demonstrations of social status, or political statements. In this case, Hong Kong is showing its commitment to international agreements to put an end to poaching and preserve wildlife. But with about 70% of the illegal ivory trade flowing to China, and a history of accusations of illegally re-selling confiscated ivory, perhaps China also feels it’s time to make a public statement loud enough to clear its name. And how better to get our attention than to burn up $60 million?
(cover photo from annimaticus.com)