Kenya takes stock of ivory for first time

2015-09-16 19:55
Fifteen tons of elephant tusks on fire during an anti-poaching ceremony at Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, Kenya. (Khalil Senosi, AP)

Fifteen tons of elephant tusks on fire during an anti-poaching ceremony at Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, Kenya. (Khalil Senosi, AP)

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Nairobi - Kenya has taken its first ever inventory of ivory stockpiles before authorities destroy them later this year, officials said Wednesday, announcing that the country holds 138 tons of it.

Kenya had previously been thought to hold only 115 tons of ivory.

Environment Ministry senior official Judi Wakhungu did not say how much of the ivory had been confiscated from poachers and how much was sourced legally, for example from elephants having died of natural causes.

Wakhungu also did not say over how long a period the ivory had been stored.

An inventory was also taken of rhino horn stockpiles, which amounted to 1.5 tons.

The inventories made at 20 storage sites will be used for stock management and for a DNA reference library to use in forensic evidence when prosecuting wildlife crimes, according to Wakhungu.

Ivory DNA samples will be analysed before the ivory stockpiles are destroyed to demonstrate Kenya's zero tolerance of the illegal trade, the official said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged that the east African nation would destroy all of its ivory when he set 15 tons of it on fire in March.

Kenya lost 137 elephants and 24 rhino to poachers in 2014, recovering 5 842kg of ivory and rhino horn and arresting 123 suspects, according to the wildlife authorities.

Ivory has been used for decades in manufacturing or decorating items like instruments or home goods, while rhino horn is used in Asian traditional medicine.

Read more on:    kenya  |  poaching  |  east africa

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