Springtime in ROME
Italy's First Ivory Crush in March 2016
Italy's first ivory crush should take place on 31st March 2016 in Circus Maximus in Rome. A good reason for me to visit 'the most amazing city in the universe' (according to Asterix) again.
The ivory crush was to happen here in Circus Maximus, historic stage of competitions, chariot-races, well-known from film 'Ben Hur'. Nowadays it is a longish, green plot beside the Palatin with slopes at its sides which had been the seating area of the audience. In modern times the place is used for various open air events. So it was on Thursday, 31st March. The stage and the technical equipment for the ivory crush had already been prepared when I passed the Circus at noon time.
In the evening the event started honouring the main organizers for their work. The Italy ivory crush was organized by the Elephant Action League (EAL) in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of the Environment, the Italian Forest Police and the City of Rome.
Around 200 invited guests were in the audience. So was I, representing the NGO "Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V." (Save the Elephants of Afrika). A lot of pressmen were present, too. No wonder, as Ornella Vanoni, a very well-known singer of Italy who is an advocate for environmental matters, was among the guests and spoke to the audience about her desire to help. Also, Italy's environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti, took part in the event which would not have been possible to realize without him. The minister held a passionate speech stressing the importance of a global conservation initiative. The European Union plays an important role in the international fight against ivory trafficking. Ivory cannot have a price, he emphasized.
This was the stockpile of half a ton of ivory which had been seized by the Italian customs and which now should be destroyed for good.
Ornella Vanoni put the first tusk on the conveying belt which should transport the ivory into the shredding- and milling machine.
The second tusk was rendered by the environment minister. The action at the belt was transmitted on a big screen.
Then each tusk and each carved ivory item of the stockpile was laid onto the belt one by one.
I was also allowed to put two ivory items onto the belt. It was a very moving moment, remembering all the wonderful elephants that had to die for these futile ivory objects.
The destruction machines with the conveying belt (right) and the containers. At the end of the procedure (left) the trucks were waiting to remove the ground material to a place where it should finally be burnt.
After some talking in a good atmosphere with like-minded elephant conservationists , finally all the ivory was destroyed, and the event came to a close.
THANK YOU, Italy!!
In case you haven't done so yet, please sign this important PETITION for the survival of elephants: "CITES: High Time for a Complete and Permanent Ban on All Ivory Trade"
Text and Petition in this LINK
Thanks for your signature - in the name of the elephants!
Staying in Rome anyway, of course I visited some more places in this ancient city of which there are no likes on our planet.
First of all some pictures of my lovely accommodation.
Unbelievable: There were some elephants in my room :-)
For me as an egyptomaniac one of the first things I did was visiting the pyramid of Cestius which is part of the Cimitero Acattolico (historic cemetery for non-catholic foreigners).
The pyramid is beside the Porta San Paolo. It was built in 12 B.C. by a Roman dignitary named Gaius Cestius who loved Egypt.
The cemetery is a very beautiful, quiet place. Many famous persons have been buried here, e.g. the english romantic John Keats and Goethe's son August Goethe and many others.
A baby's tomb
Inside the church those two statues impressed me most:
The Mary statue who seems so victorious
and one of the former popes who seems to be smiling secretely in his prayer.
My further way brought me to Aventin, one of Rome's seven hills, which is an exclusive residential area nowadays.
Unavoidable in Rome: A visit to Piazza Navona. But due to the big crowd of tourists taking selfies everywhere I couldn't stand spending a lot of time there.
The Pantheon, once an ancient Roman temple, then modified into a church. The hole in the middle of the cupola is famous. When it rains, the church gets wet inside.
The grim looking elephant of Bernini which carries the Egyptian obelisk of the 6th century B.C. at Piazza Minerva close to the Pantheon.
The monumental city was a great place already in the times of the Romans and now proved that it can still show the way with the ivory crush in March 2016.