In a bold statement to the world, a veritable mountain of elephant ivory and rhino horn, together with seized wildlife skins, trophies, and rare seized timber such as sandalwood, will be set alight today (Saturday 30th April) by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi National Park in the presence of world leaders, dignitaries and the international press corps.
Will Travers OBE, President and Co-Founder of the Born Free Foundation, who will be present at the event, said: “When Kenya first burned 12 tonnes of ivory way back in 1989 – a move which led to the international ivory trade ban agreed that same year – many of us thought the poaching crisis was over.
Foolish, short-sighted and greedy decisions made in subsequent years lead to an undermining of that ban and a poaching epidemic that has seen hundreds of thousands of elephants slaughtered across Africa in the last decade. Today’s ivory inferno must send one clear signal: Ivory belongs on living elephants and there is no room for any future ivory trade – illegal or legal. It is over.”
Born Free Foundation Wildlife Consultant, Ian Redmond OBE, who will also be in attendance, added: “The future of elephants is inextricably linked with the well-being of millions of human beings. Wildlife tourism is an economic driver in many African economies and elephants also play a vital ecological role. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the rain that falls on the breadbaskets of Europe has come from Africa’s tropical forests which rely on the seed-dispersal role of elephants for their survival.”
Tim Oloo, Born Free Kenya’s Country Manager, stated: “This means a lot to Kenya and her citizens and, perhaps especially people who, like myself, have worked in the wildlife sector for so long. We must never forget the human cost of poaching. Many brave wardens and rangers have lost their lives, communities have been compromised, and hundreds of poachers, who are so often just pawns of the wildlife crime syndicates, have been killed. Emotionally, I am both sad and happy. Above all, I hope that a new dawn is breaking and that the world can come together to work for compassionate conservation where all individual living creatures are valued for what they are, not for what they can be sold for.”
Kenya was the first country to destroy stockpiled ivory when, in 1989, former President Daniel arap Moi torched a 12-tonne pyre of ivory tusks. Since then, countries around the world have followed suit by destroying stocks including Ethiopia, Gabon, Chad, Malawi, Zambia, Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Hong Kong, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, France, Belgium, and the United States. Including Saturday’s mega-burn, this means that nearly 240 tonnes of ivory has been permanently removed from circulation.
The Government of Kenya and Kenya Wildlife Service, who are hosting today’s ivory burn, said the mass destruction would put the ivory beyond economic use, demonstrate Kenya’s leadership in ending the poaching of elephants and rhinos, and send a clear message to the world that Kenya’s natural assets are not for sale.
Based on Born Free’s monitoring of reports relating to ivory seizures, it is estimated that nearly 142,000 elephants have been poached for their ivory since January 2012 (www.bloodyivory.org).
Born Free helped secure the international commercial ivory trade ban in 1989 and since then has campaigned tirelessly against attempts to reopen international trade in ivory as well as to bring an end to all domestic and legal trade.
Born Free also investigates poaching, exposes illegal ivory smuggling and its links with organised wildlife crime syndicates in its Born Free USA-commissioned reports (Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa), and provides protection to elephants in their range countries.