Illegal ivory destroyed by the Philippines

People watch as a backhoe crushes elephant tusks at a ceremony at the wildlife bureau compound in Manila on June 21, 2013. Destroying the stockpile ensures that seized ivory cannot be stolen

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The Philippines is destroying millions of dollars worth of ivory smuggled into the country from Africa in a bid to discourage its illegal trade.

Heavy machinery began crushing the ivory in a car park on Friday.

The stockpile was built up over the last decade as customs officials seized several illegal ivory shipments.

Wildlife campaigners say there has been an increase in the illegal trade in tusks over recent years - much of it reportedly through the Philippines.

"This act is a strong statement to the rest of the world that the Philippines will not tolerate the illegal wildlife trade," Environment Secretary Ramon Paje was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Destroying the stockpile ensures that seized ivory cannot be stolen from government warehouses and sold on the black market.

The international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, to protect Africa's elephant populations, some of which are endangered.

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