Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta embodies his country's commitment to saving Africa's elephants setting fire to a huge pyre of ivory. …

Elephant summit: President Uhuru Kenyatta has set fire to a pile of ivory

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta embodies his country's commitment to saving Africa's elephants setting fire to a huge pyre of ivory.

 

More than 100 tonnes of ivory, constituted by the tusks of about 6,700 elephants, representing nearly the entire stock confiscated by Kenya were stacked up in pyres in Nairobi National Park and should continue to burn for several days. Some 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn have also been burnt.

Before setting fire on the first pyre, Mr Kenyatta declared: “The height of the pile of ivory before us marks the strength of our resolve (…) 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”.

Said burning, the biggest in history, follows the call launched by African leaders for ending the illegal trafficking in ivory and the warning from experts about the imminent extinction of the continent’s elephants within the next decades.

Some conservationists have nevertheless stood opposed to it stating that it might, on the contrary, encourage poaching.

If tackling demand and destroying the market constitute obvious areas of protection of Africa’s elephants, ways of making elephants more valuable alive than dead need to be enhanced.

Africa hosts a population of elephants whose number ranges between 450,000 and 500,000. The risk of their imminent extinction is high since 30,000 elephants are killed every year for their tusks.

The street value of the burnt ivory is rising to more than $100m (£70m) whereas the rhino horn is estimated at $80m.

“We don't believe there is any intrinsic value in ivory, and therefore we're going to burn all our stockpiles and demonstrate to the world that ivory is only valuable on elephants,” declared Kitili Mbathi, director general of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

(With BBC Africa)

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