Kenya burns world's biggest ivory stockpile worth $105m in conservation effort
"Kenya set light to 105 tonnes of elephant ivory in the biggest burn in history on Saturday, aimed at crushing poaching and the illicit wildlife trade.
The country’s president set light to 11 pyres containing a total of 25,000 pieces of wildlife contraband including elephant tusks, rhino horns, exotic animal skins and medicinal bark.
"Speaking to delegates at the Giants’ Club summit of conservation experts, Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan president, said poaching was not just about animals, it was holding Africa back.
“There is convincing evidence poaching is aided by international criminal syndicates; it fuels corruption; it undermines the rule of law and security; it even provides funding for other trans-national crime,” he said.
“This directly threatens the capacity of our nations to achieve sustainable and meaningful socio-economic development.”
"Each year, between 20,000 and 33,000 elephants are thought to be lost to poaching, which is driven by a mainly Chinese market for their tusks to be carved into trinkets and jewellery.
"Despite millions of dollars in foreign aid and from local government budgets being poured into clamping down on poachers and criminal syndicates, elephants are still being killed faster than they are being born. As few as 470,000 African elephants are now thought to remain in the wild.
"This year so far, Kenya lost at least 94 elephants to poachers and, according to Dr Richard Leakey, the renowned palaeontologist and chair of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, the country’s pachyderm population remains in a “terrible, perilous state”.
“We are burning the ivory because we believe ivory should be worthless. We believe not just in putting it out of economic reach but getting rid of it completely forever,” he said.
"Advertisements for the burn were broadcast on big screens onto Shanghai’s Bund building in its equivalent of Times Square and live-streamed on the internet accompanied by commentaries by some of the country’s best-known celebrities.
"Aisling Ryan, from the American charity WildAid which has focused on disrupting the Chinese market, said the Chinese word for “tusk” is the same as for “teeth” and many consumers had been unaware an elephant had to die for it to be harvested."