The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has set aside at least 30 confiscated elephant tusks for educational and research purposes.
Theresa Mundita Lim, DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau director, said the tusks came from five tons of contraband shipment that will be destroyed using road rollers.
“The selected pieces of ivory tusks are intended for use by the National Museum, the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education for their research and education purposes,” Lim said.
She said the primary aim of destroying the tusks was to show to the world the country’s strong position against illegal trade of “blood ivory” and the massacre of elephants.
“The Philippines has, in fact, been lauded for this move, with the disposal to be witnessed by representatives from the international community committed to enforcement against illegal trade of wild fauna and flora,” Lim said.
Among those expected to witness the destruction of the tusks on Friday at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife in Quezon City are Director Bonaventure Ebayi of the Nairobi-based Lusaka Agreement Task Force, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Brian Goldbeck, Brian Christy of the National Geographic, and members of foreign and local media.
Lim said the planned destruction was based on the recommendation of the Commission on Audit to dispose of the ivory according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to “deter possible loss from theft or untoward situations.”
“CITES does not allow selling of Appendix I species or any of its by-products, as this is considered as money laundering,” Lim pointed out.
Appendix I lists about 1,200 species threatened with extinction, including elephants. Their commercial trade, especially if specimens come from animals caught in the wild, is illegal.
“This is why we cannot simply sell them and donate the money elsewhere or use them for school buildings and chairs and the like,” Lim said.
The PAWB spends around P2 million annually to secure the ivory tusks that were turned over to it by Bureau of Customs from 1996 to 2009.
JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ