On the eve of a meeting of the European Commission on the fight against the illegal trade in endangered species, 1.5 tons of illegal ivory, seized during the past 25 years, was destroyed in the Palace of the Colonies in Tervuren today.
Through this operation, organized by the FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, FPS Finance (Customs Administration) and IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), Belgium wants to send a “strong signal” and show that “the ivory trade is doomed to failure, especially because the seized stocks will never be regularized or delivered in the trade,” said the Belgian Minister of Public Health Laurette Onkelinx. This firmness resonating as a warning against traffickers.
She also recalled that an elephant was “killed every 15 minutes in the world”, thus 36,500 per year, for ivory. This means that if poaching continues at this pace, wild elephants could disappear from the continent by a generation. However, seizures effectuated in recent years indicate a commitment for combating ivory trafficking which generates at least $ 19 billion per year. The minister added: “The ivory is the fourth traffic illegal trade after drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking.”
The Deputy Prime Minister calls for “closer internal cooperation within the European Union, with particular attention to proceedings beyond the frontiers. And, thanks to the benefits of database EU-Twix for exchanging expertise between 34 countries as well as essential information on foreclosures, home centers or laboratories that conduct analyzes.” In Belgium, a general cooperation agreement between the Federal Public Health and the Federal Finance has just been signed to clearly differentiate the legal ivory from the illegal one.
Belgium became an important stop in traffic of white gold. “Every week, our customs services seized ivory in the luggage of individuals from Central and West Africa, passing through our country to go to Asia,” said the head of customs procedures Mr. Gratien Capiau. “The intensity with which this illegal trade occurs has increased considerably in recent years ,” continued Capiau.