BEIJING - China shredded a pile of ivory reportedly weighing over six tonnes on Monday, in a landmark event aimed at shedding its image as a global hub for the illegal trade in African elephant tusks.
In what was described as the first ever public destruction of ivory in China, masked workers fed tusks from a pile surrounded by ivory carvings into crushing machines in the southern city of Dongguan.
The event was "the country's latest effort to discourage illegal ivory trade, protect wildlife and raise public awareness", the official news agency Xinhua said.
Surging demand for ivory in Asia is behind an ever-mounting death toll of African elephants, conservationists say, as authorities have failed to rein in international smuggling networks.
Experts believe that most illegal ivory is headed to China -- where products made from the material have long been seen as status symbols -- with some estimating the country accounts for as much as 70 per cent of global demand.