There’s an important development in the global ivory wars, stemming directly from the great National Geographic article (explored on Dot Earth recently) that focused on the demand created by the market for religious icons carved from elephant tusks. A Catholic priest, whose statements about ways to illicitly ship ivory to the United States were featured in the magazine article, is being investigated by government authorities in the Philippines. Here are the details, as reported by Floyd Whaley out of Manila for The Times:
MANILA — Philippine law enforcement officials said on Wednesday that they were investigating whether a senior priest in the Roman Catholic Church was involved in the smuggling of elephant ivory to feed country’s passion for religious icons.
The investigation was prompted by an article in the October issue of National Geographic magazine that quotes Msgr. Cristóbal Garcia, a senior church official on the central Philippine island of Cebu, as telling an American reporter how to smuggle illegal elephant ivory figurines into the United States. “Wrap it in old, stinky underwear and pour ketchup on it,” he is quoted as saying, to deter inspection. Continue reading