MANILA — Philippine government workers used a backhoe and an incinerator Friday to crush and burn more than 5 tons of smuggled elephant tusks worth an estimated $10 million in the biggest known destruction of trafficked ivory outside Africa.
The government said that the destruction of the stockpile, gathered from seizures since 2009, demonstrates its commitment to fighting the illegal ivory trade. It also eliminates any opportunity for corrupt officials to resell the ivory, as was the case in 2006 when the largest single shipment of 3.7 tons vanished from the inventory, according to an international network that tracks the illegal trade.
‘‘Ivory is known to have disappeared from a number of government-held stockpiles worldwide, so it is vital that proper protocols are established,’’ said Colman O Criodain from the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The US Agency for International Development and the anti-wildlife-trafficking Freeland Foundation said they were helping the Philippines analyze DNA of tusks at the Center for Conservation Biology of the University of Washington so that law enforcement agencies will know the origin and transit points of the smuggled ivory. It will also help to dismantle criminal syndicates responsible for poaching in Africa.
Ivory can fetch up to $910 per pound on the black market and more than $50,000 for an entire tusk.