Tags: sri lanka | destroys | ivory | haul

Sri Lanka Destroys Ivory Haul; Buddhist Monks Bless 359 Tusks

Image: Sri Lanka Destroys Ivory Haul; Buddhist Monks Bless 359 Tusks
Buddhist monks look at African elephant tusks (Blood Ivory) seized by Sri Lanka Customs to be destroyed, before they held prayers for the dead elephants, at Galle Face Green in Colombo January 26, 2016. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

By    |   Tuesday, 26 Jan 2016 02:45 PM

Sri Lanka began destroying an ivory haul seized three years ago on Tuesday after a ceremony at which Buddhist monks gave the slaughtered elephants blessings for a better rebirth, The Associated Press reported.

The African ivory was traced to northern Mozambique and Tanzania and has been valued by Sri Lankan customs at 368 million rupees (more than $2.5 million). Officials said the ivory, which was seized at Colombo's port, was being transported to Dubai through Kenya and Sri Lanka.

The destruction took place in an elaborate ceremony in Colombo attended by politicians, officials, and diplomats.

The 359 tusks weighing a total of 1,529 kilograms (3,370 pounds) were crushed by machines into smaller pieces that will later be burned to ash in high-temperature ovens at a cement factory.

Before the crushing, Buddhist monks chanted blessings to make merit for the elephants so they could have a better rebirth.

John Scanlon, secretary general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, was among those who participated in the ritual, which is usually performed by family members at Buddhist funerals.

Scanlon said the approximate value of the annual illegal trade in wildlife worldwide is $20 billion. The figure excludes timber and marine trade and mostly consists of ivory and rhino horns.

"Today's event also provides a very public opportunity to warn those people who trade illegally in ivory that the age and origin of the contraband can now be readily identified through the use of modern forensics, making prosecution and conviction far more likely," Scanlon said in a speech.

"Illegal trade in ivory is shifting from high profit, low risk to high risk, low profit," he said.

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Sri Lanka began destroying an ivory haul seized three years ago on Tuesday after a ceremony at which Buddhist monks gave the slaughtered elephants blessings for a better rebirth, The Associated Press reported.
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Tuesday, 26 Jan 2016 02:45 PM
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