NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In an effort to draw attention to elephant poaching and wildlife trafficking, a ton of confiscated ivory was crushed Friday in Times Square.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employed a 44-foot long by 13-foot wide machine, normally used for crushing rock, to pulverize the ton of artistically carved elephant ivory.

“For a brief moment, Times Square stood still for Africa’s elephants,” Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristián Samper said in a statement. “The United States staged this event at its most famous address where messages speak their loudest — two stories high and in lights. And today’s message is this: We plan to crush the ivory trade and crush the profits of the traffickers.”

“We are sending a strong message to consumers and to poachers and those who market illegal ivory, that they cannot and should not be engaging in this trade,” Senator Brad Hoylman told 1010 WINS.

Most of the ivory crushed Friday came from a single seizure, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

“This is seized illegal ivory that came into the United States unlawfully and is being crushed by the U.S. government,” Jeff Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told Lamb.

Flocken said the ivory is often used to make statues, trinkets, gun handles, musical instruments.

Flocken said an elephant is poached on the average every 15 minutes. That’s 35,000 elephants a year.

At that rate, Flocken said the African elephant is headed for extinction.

“Elephants are being killed in mass in Africa right now for their ivory,” Flocken said. “Every piece of ivory comes from a dead elephant.”

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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