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South Indian state mulls burning ivory at its disposal

Aug 05, 2013

Burning the hoard may make elephant poaching even rarer in the state, experts believe.

To stop its huge stockpile of ivory from passing into the hands of smugglers or carvers, Kerala's Wildlife department is mulling a proposal to burn the booty: many tonnes of elephant tusk, either seized from smugglers or collected from dead jumbos.

The fear is that some of this stock could reach smugglers in the future and thereby boost illegal ivory carving in the country. Destroying the hoard, which is of "zero value" now, is one way of stopping this.

"It is just a proposal and we have not taken any final decision on it.

Anyway, we are mulling it in the interest of protecting elephants," V Gopinathan, chief wildlife warden said.

"As per the Wildlife Act, sale and carving of ivory is a crime. So the ivory in our stock has zero value even though it may be worth many crores of rupees in the illegal market," he said.

"If the value of an object is zero, what is the point in keeping it? We cannot dismiss the possibility of reaching them in the hands of smugglers and illegal carvers in course of time," he said.

He said if the proposal is finalised, Kerala might become the first state in the country to destroy ivory.

"I think no other state has destroyed ivory so far. It is very rare even in the global scenario. But, many states have destroyed the horns of rhinos and such wildlife trophies," he said.

Elephant poaching is anyway now rare in the state and stopping the availability of ivory would reduce it even further, he said.

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