The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is destroying 6 tons of confiscated ivory at a federal repository outside Denver on Thursday. Here 's 10 things to know about the ivory crush:
CRUSHED TO DUST
Officials are using rock crushers to pulverize ivory elephant tusks, figurines and jewelry — most of the U.S. stockpile of confiscated ivory — at the National Wildlife Property Repository.
Authorities hope the ivory crush will send a message to poachers and smugglers responsible for ivory trafficking that encourages the slaughter of thousands of elephants, most of them in Africa, each year. More likely, Thursday's event will raise consumer awareness.
THE GLOBAL TRADE
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the illegal ivory trade is a $10 billion global industry. Demand is booming in the United States and among China's growing middle class. The British-based Born Free Foundation estimates 32,000 elephants were killed last year.
THE IVORY BAN
Curbing "blood ivory" trafficking is at the top of the agenda of the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which banned the trade in 1989. Some 70 years ago, there were as many as 5 million elephants in sub-Saharan Africa. Today, just several hundred thousand are left.