As part of efforts to safeguard its diminishing elephant population and to deter wildlife trafficking, the Nigerian government on Tuesday destroyed 2.5 tons of seized elephant tusks valued at over $11.2 million (N9.9 billion).
According to The Sahara, the country’s environment minister, Iziaq Salako, explaining the motive behind this, said the tusks were destroyed to send a clear message that the illegal wildlife trade would not be tolerated.
According to the environment minister, the shattered ivory would now be pulverised into a powder that would be used to erect a monument commemorating the value of elephants and Nigeria’s desire to conserve them.
According to conservationists, Nigeria has become a significant crossroads for the illegal trade in African animal parts. Asia is thought to have the largest marketplaces. Nearly four tonnes of captured pangolin scales were publicly burnt in October.
According to experts, tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year for their tusks around the world. This is despite a decades-long prohibition on international ivory commerce. The haul of elephant tusks destroyed on Tuesday was one of the biggest ever seized in Nigeria, weighing almost 2.5 tonnes.
Some had been carved into artworks ready for sale, according to BBC. A recent report estimates that there are fewer than 500,000 elephants in Africa compared to more than 1.3 million in the 1970s. As few as 400 remain in Nigeria.
In some cases, elephants are killed when they come into contact with humans or destroy crops. In December, Nigerian officials began investigating following outcry at a viral video that showed soldier shooting two elephants that had wandered on to farmland.