Destroying ill-gotten ivory sends convicted poachers a clear message: the United States will disrupt and prosecute them and assure they don’t profit from killing these magnificent animals.

Ivory Crush, a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also aims to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and to reduce demand for illegal ivory.

In the United States, elephant ivory and other seized wildlife products are held as evidence until criminal and civil cases are concluded. After that, a few items are kept for educational and training purposes, and everything else is crushed — ensuring no profit is derived from this deadly activity.

A pile of seized ivory awaits destruction. (USFWS)

Some ivory is seized as it is smuggled into the United States; some is intercepted leaving the country or while being unlawfully sold in interstate commerce. Other pieces arrive in the United States without the appropriate Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits or are brought back by travelers who did not know (or failed to follow) wildlife laws and regulations.

The United States destroyed six tons of confiscated ivory in November 2013. Since then many nations — including the Philippines, Kenya, France and China — have destroyed their stockpiles. Each ton of ivory represents approximately 330 dead elephants. More than 30,000 elephants are killed each year for the illegal ivory trade.

You can help crush the illegal wildlife trade by saying no to purchases of ivory or products derived from ivory.