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“We want to send a clear message that the United States will not tolerate ivory trafficking and the toll it is taking on elephant populations, particularly in Africa,” the Fish & Wildlife Service notes in a factsheet released ahead of Thursday’s ivory crush.
Elephant poaching is currently at its worst point in a decade, with an estimated 95 elephants being killed every day, particularly in Africa.
Consumer demand is also spiking in Asia, particularly in China. According to a U.N. report released earlier this year, large seizures of ivory bound for Asia have more than doubled since 2009.
The reward, the first of its kind by the State Department, targeted the Xaysavang network which operates from Laos as far afield as South Africa, Mozambique, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China.