Kenya burns 15 tonnes of ivory to mark World Wildlife Day

2015-03-03 14:33

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Photo: Brent Stirton/Reportage for National Geographic

President Uhuru Kenyatta will set fire to more than 15 tonnes of elephant ivory to mark World Wildlife Day at Nairobi National Park today. The tusk inferno will burn for five days under 24-hour armed surveillance, reducing the tower of ivory to black, smouldering ash.

Kenyatta follows the example of two other visionary leaders in Kenya. In July 1989, Daniel Arap Moi ignited 12 tonnes of ivory in Nairobi. In July 2011, Mwai Kibaki also set on fire a mound of more than five tonnes of elephant ivory numbering 335 tusks and 41 000 trinkets that had been confiscated in Singapore.

Africa has about 500 000 elephants, down from 1.3 million in the 1970s. Kenya has 37 000 elephants, up from the 16 000 it had at the height of the poaching crisis in 1989 but far below the country’s peak.

The event takes place in conjunction with Wangari Maathai Day in order to pay tribute to the late Nobel laureate’s Green Belt Movement legacy.

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