Poaching Crisis

Elephant poaching is at its highest level in decades and it continues to rise. Approximately 100,000 elephants were killed between 2010-2012 for the illegal ivory trade. These animals are being slaughtered across Africa to meet an insatiable global demand for ivory. Scores of the park rangers who work to protect them have also been killed. To find out more information about the poaching crisis click here.

About the Ivory Crush

In November 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed approximately six tons of elephant ivory that it had confiscated over the past 25 years. The crush highlighted our increased efforts to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and to reduce demand for illegal ivory. Since then, we have seen significant progress on this issue. In addition to tightened domestic restrictions on ivory, governments such as Hong Kong, France and China are showing much needed support by destroying some or all of their ivory stockpiles, and some major global retailers are vowing to stop selling ivory completely.

To build on the momentum of the crush, we have a unique opportunity to utilize the roughly 40 cubic feet of gravel-sized crushed ivory to create an education and awareness campaign that will further reduce the demand for ivory and other illegal wildlife products and ultimately protect wildlife from senseless killing and illegal trade.

The Challenge

We’re asking for your help in turning the crushed ivory into educational tools that can be distributed around the country. Through this pro-bono design challenge, you have the opportunity to create a compelling, thought provoking, informative and impactful display to increase awareness about the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Download the Entry Form

**Download the Applicant Agreement


**All entries must be accompanied by a completed, signed Applicant Agreement
Download the Crushed Ivory Design Poster

Application Instructions

  • Use the entry form provided to submit your design for the challenge

  • You may also submit additional materials that support your design such as drawings, photos, videos, cost spreadsheets etc.

  • The maximum size for all attachments including the submission form should not exceed 5 MB

  • Acceptable digital file formats are MS Word, pdf, JPEG, TIFF, Excel, MP4, Quicktime

  • You may provide web links to additional material such as videos in your submission form

  • Send your form and any additional materials to the email address provided below no later than 11:59 PM EST March 31, 2015

  • All submissions should include the following elements:

    1. Description of Idea:
      A summary of your idea/design/concept in 400 words or fewer.
    2. Educational Component:
      An explanation of how your idea/design will work to inform and educate the public and encourage people to take action to reduce ivory demand and stop illegal wildlife trade.
    3. Rough Production Timing and Costs:
      Brief explanation of the method of production, along with an estimate of timing and production costs. NOTE: If you are unsure of the production methods, timing and costs, that’s OK – provide us your best estimate.
    4. Pictures/Illustrations/Renderings:
      An opportunity to visually bring your idea to life with sketches, drawings, renderings, etc.
    5. Applicant Agreement:
      All entries must be accompanied by a completed, signed Applicant Agreement

Project Ideas

The possibilities are endless, but the best ideas will be grounded in feasibility and take into account a realistic production budget. In other words, we consider the cost of this project a worthwhile endeavor because of the impact it can have on reducing demand for ivory and saving elephants, rhinos and other wildlife, but it needs to be financially reasonable. Here are some examples:

  1. Fabricate the crushed ivory into polymer-encased pavers and create an “elephant walk” leading to elephant exhibits in zoos around the country.
  2. A series of small exhibits that could be featured in zoos, museums, and aquariums across the country.
  3. A traveling exhibit that would tour schools and museums throughout the U.S.
  4. A public event to memorialize the elephants while raising awareness about illegal wildlife trafficking and the illegal wildlife trade.

Again, these are just thought starters—the possibilities are endless. We need your creative ideas.

How the Contest Works

From September 15 through March 31, 2015, we will be in the “Open Submission” period. This is your chance to brainstorm and develop ideas that fit within the Design Requirements (see below).

Once the Open Submission period ends on March 31st, there are a few steps that will get us to the winning entry:

Internal Review:
During this phase, we will review each submission and verify that it meets the Design Requirements (see below).

Panel Discussion:
All submissions that meet the below Design Requirements will be reviewed by a panel of recognized wildlife conservationists, as well as design and marketing experts. This panel will rank the submissions based on the Judging Criteria (see below).

Final Tally:
At the conclusion of the Panel Discussion, the panel will choose at least one winner. Depending on how much of the crushed ivory the winning idea uses, additional submissions may be considered for implementation as well.

Execution and Distribution:
The Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) will work with non-government organizations and other partners, along with the contest winner, to bring the idea to life and distribute it around the country.

Design Requirements

The outcome of this project will be the creation of an educational tool that will raise awareness of the plight of African elephants and other species threatened by poaching and illegal trade and help motivate people to take action to help save endangered wildlife around the world. Given the scope and gravity of this project, there are certain logistical and tactical guidelines that must be followed:

  1. As you develop your ideas, please keep in mind that we want this project to create awareness of the issue and incite change. In other words, the idea should incorporate a kiosk, signage, or some other means to provide information about the initiative and the need to stop illegal wildlife trade.
  2. Design submissions should reflect the overall intent of the U.S. Ivory Crush – to render the ivory useless – so the ideal design will not glorify or add value to the crushed ivory. For example, creating beautiful, ornate sculptures of elephants from the crushed ivory is contrary to the objective of this design challenge.
  3. Given the black market value of ivory, the ideal design will take into account potential security/theft risks. For example, embedding the ivory in a structure where pieces can be easily chipped out and stolen is problematic unless it is encased in a polymer or otherwise shielded.
  4. Designs should be in good taste and suitable for display in areas of broad audience (e.g., museums, zoos, schools, etc.).
  5. The ideal design/idea should be stationary or suitable for a fixed location.
  6. All designs/ideas should be conceptualized with a realistic production/fabrication budget in mind. While we consider this project a worthwhile investment based on its education and awareness value, the cost to produce must be realistic and reasonable (i.e., thousands of dollars vs. millions of dollars).

Judging Criteria

The expert panel will judge the submitted ideas based on the below criteria. We recommend that you keep this in mind as you develop your ideas.

  • Does the design work to educate the public, inspire people to take action and work to reduce demand for elephant ivory and other illegal wildlife trade?
  • Is the design feasible in terms of timing and budget?
  • Does the design mitigate security/theft concerns?
  • Does the design achieve the goal of not adding value to the crushed ivory?


Open Submission

9/15 – 3/31/15

Internal review

Summer 2015

Panel Discussion

Summer 2015

Winning Design Announcement

Summer 2015


TBD, based on winning idea


TBD, based on winning idea

Contact Information

For questions about the design challenge, please contact ivory_crush@fws.gov.

Submit Entry Form