Central Park, New York City, Aug. 3, 2017 – The following statement was released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society from an event where nearly 2 tons of elephant ivory was about to be crushed here at 10:30am EDT. The ivory has a net worth of $8 million, representing more than 100 elephants. All were seized by law enforcement in the heart of New York City.

Hundreds of pieces of art, vases and jewelry made from elephant ivory were to be destroyed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). More than 500 people gathered for the solemn event.

The event was organized by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with support from Tiffany & Co.

Said John Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Director of the 96 Elephants Campaign:

“The crushing sounds inside Central Park today equal justice for elephants. The crusher pulverized more than 2 tons of elephant ivory, ensuring that this ivory will never again bring profit to the criminals killing off the world’s elephants.

“At the Wildlife Conservation Society, we want to thank New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, for ensuring New York destroyed this ivory today. I want to also thank Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., who ensures justice each time he prosecutes anyone charged with the illegal selling of elephant ivory. And a thank you to Tiffany & Co. for taking a stand with all our WCS conservationists in Africa and Asia working each day to stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand of elephant ivory. Tiffany & Co.,  a leader in sustainability and a member of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, is supporting the event while also launching Tiffany Save the Wild, a collection of elephant charms and brooches with 100% of net proceeds donated to support elephant conservation.

“By crushing a ton of ivory in the middle of the world’s most famous public park, New Yorkers are sending a message to poachers, traffickers and dealers who try to set up shop right here on our streets: We won’t stand for the slaughter of elephants. Nobody needs an ivory brooch that badly.

“Three years ago, New York was among the first states to pass strict controls on the trade in ivory. By passing an ivory ban in 2014, New York helped spur the world into action for elephants. Several other states enacted ivory bans following New York, and in 2016, the U.S. government implemented its own strong ban on the ivory trade and imposed stricter penalties on those who engage in wildlife trafficking As part of the response to the elephant extinction crisis, the New York State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo enacted an ivory ban with few exceptions in order to increase penalties and reduce demand for these illicit items.

“Since then, state authorities have cracked down on those who break the law. Two sellers busted in 2015 on 57th St. in Midtown Manhattan with $4.5 million worth of ivory items were convicted just last week by District Attorney Vance and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties. Those confiscated ivory items will be among those crushed in Central Park.

“The plight of elephants in Africa is grim. Killed at rates as high as 96 per day, some estimates say that African forest elephants could be extinct within a decade. Poachers targeting these creatures easily outnumber and outgun the gutsy wildlife rangers who are there to protect them.

 “WCS extends a special thanks to all the partnering organizations at the crush today: African Wildlife Foundation; Association of Zoos and Aquariums; The Humane Society of the United States; International Fund for Animal Welfare; National Geographic; Natural Resources Defense Council; Save Animals Facing Extinction; United States Wildlife Trafficking Alliance; WildAid; and a special thanks to Emerald Equipment Systems for donating the crusher.