Beijing: In an unprecedented move, China today publicly destroyed 6.1 tonnes of confiscated ivory to shed its image as the world's biggest market for smuggled elephant tusks and discourage its illegal trade and poaching.
The public event was held in Dongguan city of the booming Guangdong Province in southern China, considered to be a key area where illegal trade of ivory is widely reported.
The event, the first public ivory destruction in China, was the country's latest effort to discourage illegal ivory trade, protect wildlife and raise public awareness, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Raw tusks and carved ivory pieces, which the government has seized over the years, were dumped into two crushers, the report said on the event held by the State Forestry Administration and the General Administration of Customs.
China's move came two months after the United States destroyed its stockpile of ivory for the first time in 25 years of collecting items sold in the illegal ivory trade.
In the November ceremony, the United States destroyed six tonnes of ivory in a rock crusher.
Conservation groups have been saying that China, which has a vast middle class with growing spending power, is the world's biggest market for ivory.
The international ivory trade was banned in 1989, but black markets still thrive in parts of the world, and poachers kill an estimated 96 elephants in Africa a day to obtain their tusks, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Increasing demand for ivory is fueling a brutal slaughter of African elephants. In 2012 alone, some 35,000 were killed, the WCS said in a recent statement.
According to WWF, over 30,000 elephants are now killed for their tusks annually. The crisis is fueled by a demand for illegal ivory - part of wildlife crime trade valued between USD 7.8 billion and USD 10 billion per year, it said....