Italy's first ivory crush should take place on 31st March 2016 in Circus Maximus in Rome. A good reason for me to visit 'the most amazing city in the universe' (according to Asterix) again.
The ivory crush was to happen here in Circus Maximus, historic stage of competitions, chariot-races, well-known from film 'Ben Hur'. Nowadays it is a longish, green plot beside the Palatin with slopes at its sides which had been the seating area of the audience. In modern times the place is used for various open air events. So it was on Thursday, 31st March. The stage and the technical equipment for the ivory crush had already been prepared when I passed the Circus at noon time.
In the evening the event started honouring the main organizers for their work. The Italian ivory crush was organized by the Elephant Action League (EAL) in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of the Environment, the Italian Forest Police and the City of Rome.
Around 200 invited guests were sitting in the audience. So was I, representing the NGO "Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V." (Save the Elephants of Afrika). A lot of pressmen were present, too. No wonder, as Ornella Vanoni, a very well-known singer of Italy who is an advocate for environmental matters, was among the guests and spoke to the audience about her desire to help. Also, Italy's environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti, took part in the event which would not have been possible to realize without him. The minister held a passionate speech stressing the importance of a global conservation initiative. The European Union plays an important role in the international fight against ivory trafficking. 'Ivory cannot have a price', he emphasized.
This was the stockpile of half a ton of ivory which had been seized by the Italian customs and which now should be destroyed for good.
Ornella Vanoni put the first tusk on the conveying belt which would transport the ivory into the shredding- and milling machine. The second tusk was rendered by the environment minister. The scenes at the belt were transmitted on a big screen.
Then each tusk and each carved ivory item of the stockpile was laid onto the belt one by one.
I was also allowed to put two ivory items onto the belt. It was a very moving moment, remembering all the wonderful elephants that had to die for this pile of futile ivory objects.
The destruction machines with the conveying belt (on the right) and the containers. At the end of the procedure (on the left) the trucks were waiting to remove the ground material to a place where it should finally be burnt.
The monumental city of Rome was a great place already in the times of the Romans and now proved that it can still show the way with this ivory crush in March 2016.
After some talking in a good atmosphere with like-minded elephant conservationists , finally all the ivory was destroyed, and the event came to a close.
THANK YOU, Italy!!