Kenya has had a long history of ivory burning, spearheading a global movement to abolish international ivory trade and save wild life especially elephants. The torching that took place Saturday, April 30th in Kenya is the largest ever! A stockpile of 16,000 tusks and pieces of ivory weighing about 105 tonnes from thousands of dead elephants where burned, plus another 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn representing the killing of around 340 of the endangered animals were also being burned.
Leading the cause was Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta who lit the stockpile fueled by thousands of litres of diesel and kerosene injected in. Eleven huge pyres of tusks burned, a symbolic event targeted at shocking the world into stopping the slaughter of elephants. As the huge white clouds of smoke rose to the sky at Nairobi’s national park, the Kenyan President demanded a total ban on trade in ivory to end the “murderous” trafficking and prevent the extinction of elephants in the wild.
He spoke “The height of the pile of ivory before us marks the strength of our resolve,” Kenyatta said, before thrusting a burning torch onto the ivory. No-one, and I repeat no-one, has any business in trading in ivory, for this trade means death of our elephants and death of our natural heritage.”
The President of Gabon, Ali Bongo was also present, and as he lit one of the pyres he said, “Unless we take action now we risk losing this magnificent animal. Poachers, i’m going to put you out of business, so the best thing you can do is to go into retirement now”.
More than 30,000 elephants are killed every year in Africa out of between 450,000 to 500,000 elephants animals on the continent. This is to satisfy the demand for ivory in Asia, where raw tusks sell for around $1,000 (800 euros) a kilo (2.2 pounds). The stockpile burned is worth over $100 million, and the rhino horn could raise as much as $80 million.
75% of all traded ivory are from animals and elephants illegally killed each year to feed the demand in growing economies in Asia, eager for an elephant’s tooth as a status symbol.
Kenya Wildlife Service chief, Richard Leakey called all African nations to emulate Kenya and destroy every ivory and rhino horn, saying it was “shameful” to keep stocks in case of possible future sale.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the ivory trade in 1989.