In 2012, Sri Lanka Customs forfeited a blood ivory shipment, with a total of 359 pieces of ivory equaling 1.5 tons. Today – on 26th January, 2016, at the Galle Face Green in Colombo, the ivory stock will be publicly destroyed, followed by a religious ceremony to remember and honor the elephants killed.

Addressing member states and civil society representatives at the 66th Standing Committee meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) held in Geneva last week, Minister Jayawickrama Perera said that “this event will highlight to the world, and to everybody within our country, that we will not tolerate any illegal trade of ivory”.

Sri Lanka has been a signatory to the CITES – the UN body dedicated to fighting the global poaching crisis since 1979. The country is a strategic transit location in the ivory trafficking sea routes and the blood ivory shipment was seized from a ship en route to the Middle East from Kenya.

According to CITES every year around 30,000 elephants are killed in Africa for their tusks, primarily to satisfy the demand for ivory products in Asia.

This will be the first ivory crush in the South Asian Region, and Sri Lanka will join 15 other nations in destroying blood ivory to curb the illegal international trade of wild fauna and flora and zero tolerance policy on blood ivory.

Secretary General (CITES) Mr. John E. Scanlon and Sri Lanka’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, who took office in January 2015, will attend the event.