To Raise Poaching Awareness Kenyan Government Burns 100 Tons Of Ivory From Over 6,000 Elephants Valued At $300 Million

On Saturday, president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta used a torch to set ablaze a giant pyre of ivory, one of 11 similar mounds built in Nairobi National Park that will burn for almost a week. It was part of an effort to incinerate 105 metric tons of elephant ivory and 1.5 tons of rhinoceros horns from the government’s stockpile of confiscated material taken from poachers and illegal traders.

It is the largest amount of ivory destroyed at one time, representing between 6,000 and 7,000 elephants and $300 million on the black market. The burn coincides with a meeting of The Giants Club, a forum that brings together the leaders of nations with elephant populations, business leaders and conservationists to discuss initiatives to help preserve Africa’s elephants, which have seen increased poaching pressure in recent years because of high ivory prices, which can reach $1,000 per kilogram.

Not everyone agrees that incinerating the ivory is the best policy. The president of Botswana boycotted the burn, and some conservationists are concerned that the destruction of the ivory will drive up prices, incentivizing poachers to kill more elephants.

According to the BBC, about 30,000 African elephants are slaughtered for their tusks each year. While Kenya has reduced poaching within its borders about 80 percent in recent years, Tanzania, the nation to the south, has lost 65 percent of its elephants in the last five years. Most of the ivory ends up in China, where the material is used to make statuettes, eyeglasses, and other products. Much of it is still shipped through Kenyan ports.

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