CRUSHING IT: Italy is joining the fight against elephant poaching and the illegal trafficking of ivory, rhino horn and timber with the first public ivory crush in the country March 31 at 5 p.m. CET in Rome’s ancient racing stadium Circus Maximus.

The Italian Ministry of Environment and the Italian Forest Police teamed with the American nonprofit organization Elephant Action League for the event, where almost a ton of seized ivory, including tusks and carved objects will first be crushed by an industrial stone crusher and then destroyed by a steamroller to be disposed permanently.

“Behind elephant poaching and ivory trafficking there is a huge human toll and corruption at all levels from money laundering to weapons trafficking, and the exploitation of entire local communities,” said EAL cofounder Andrea Costa, who is also the coauthor of the undercover investigation “Africa’s White Gold of Jihad,” which linked the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab to illegal ivory trafficking.

Gian Luca Galletti, Italy’s minister of environment, and the head of the Italian Forest Police, Cesare Patrone, will attend the ceremony, as well as a representative of the Kenyan government to pass on the baton from Italy to the next public destruction in Kenya on April 30, where 120 tons of ivory — the biggest amount ever — will be burned.

“We are very proud to have gained the support of the Italian government for this initiative where a symbolic amount of seized ivory will be destroyed,” said EAL cofounder Gilda Moratti. “The Italian governmental institutions’ presence is a testament to the strength of our commitment and the value of our project.”

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