Kenya-torches-100-tons-of-ivory-to-curb-poaching. NAIROBI, Kenya, Kenya set fire to a massive stockpile of ivory in an attempt to curb the poaching of elephants, rhinos and other protected animals in the country.
President Uhuru Kenyatta set the first match to the stockpile — 12 towers of seized elephant tusks mixed with exotic animal skins and other illegal products — Saturday at Nairobi’s national park.
“The height of the pile of ivory before us marks the strength of our resolve,” Kenyatta said before starting the flame. “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 stockpile included the tusks from an estimated 6,700 to 8,000 African elephants as well as the horns from at least 343 rhinos, together valued at over $172 million. It will need to burn for a week to be fully destroyed.
Kenya believes the commodities are of zero value since they were stripped from the animals on which they were found.
“From a Kenyan perspective, we’re not watching any money go up in smoke,” Kenya Wildlife Service Director Gen. Kitili Mbathi said to CNN. “The only value of the ivory is tusks on a live elephant.”
Even rare hand-carved ivory statues depicting Asian military figures were burned Saturday.
The ivory burning, the largest in history, came directly after a meeting of African leaders aimed at ending poaching and ivory trading. Some leaders however disagree with the move, claiming the destruction of the ivory will increase its black market value and encourage more illegal hunting.
The president of Botswana is one in opposition of the public burning and did not attend Saturday’s event.