By John Ikani
An $11m (£7m) cache of confiscated elephant tusks, smuggled from various African countries, has been destroyed by the Nigerian government in a bold move to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Environment Minister Iziaq Salako made this known in Abuja stating that the move was aimed towards conveying an unequivocal message against the illicit activities associated with the trafficking of wildlife.
Despite a longstanding global ban on ivory trade, tens of thousands of elephants face slaughter annually for their tusks.
In Nigeria, a substantial seizure of nearly 2.5 tonnes of elephant tusks, some expertly crafted into artworks for potential sale, was dismantled in a landmark operation on Tuesday.
The obliterated ivory is slated to undergo pulverization, as affirmed by the environment minister, transforming it into powder.
The powder will serve a noble purpose – the construction of a monument. This symbolic structure will stand as a testament to the significance of elephants and Nigeria’s resolute commitment to their protection.
Nigeria, according to conservationists, has emerged as a prominent hub for the illegal trade in animal parts from Africa, with major markets predominantly located in Asia.
October witnessed the public destruction of approximately four tonnes of seized pangolin scales, further highlighting the country’s efforts in curbing illegal wildlife trade.
Recent estimates indicate a stark decline in the African elephant population, with fewer than 500,000 remaining, compared to over 1.3 million in the 1970s.
Africa’s most populous country, home to as few as 400 elephants, is grappling with the complex dynamics of human-wildlife conflict, as elephants are sometimes killed when they encroach upon human settlements or damage crops.
In December, a viral video depicting soldiers shooting two elephants on farmland prompted an investigation by Nigerian officials.
The incident underscored the urgent need for effective measures to address the intricate challenges posed by the coexistence of humans and elephants.