Ivory

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The U.S. made a big statement today in proving the nation has a no tolerance policy when it comes to wildlife crime. 

More than one ton—2000 pounds—of illegal ivory was crushed on Friday in NYC's Times Square in order to raise awareness about elephant poaching and wildlife trafficking. 

According to a press release, the event was organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation, the Wildlife Conservation Society and New York State Senator Brad Hoylman

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Ivory

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

"Crushing ivory in Times Square – literally at the crossroads of the world – says in the clearest of terms that the U.S. is serious about closing its illegal ivory markets and stopping the demand," said John Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society executive vice president for Public Affairs. "We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service and DEC for their efforts to close this deadly trade that is currently decimating Africa's elephants at the rate of 96 each day."

Supporters, including Sex and the City star Kristin Davis, gathered to watch the event, dubbed the #IvoryCrush on social media. It is the latest in a series of actions by the Obama administration to fight wildlife crime. 

A 44-foot long by 13-foot wide machine, typically used for smashing rocks, was reportedly used to crush the ivory, much of which came from a single seizure at a store in Philadelphia owned by Victor Gordon, who was sentenced to 30 months in jail in 2014 for illegally smuggling ivory into the United States. 

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According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, elephant poaching is at its highest level in decades, and African elephants are currently listed as threatened on the endangered species list, but there is a petition to upgrade their status to endangered. 

"Many Americans don't realize that the U.S. ivory market is one of the largest in the world. Or that its epicenter, until recently, was right here in New York City," said Peter Lehner, NRDC's executive director. "Today's ivory crush, together with tough state and federal laws cracking down on the illegal ivory trade, send a strong signal that the United States wants no part in this trade that is so devastating to wildlife."

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