Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta will once again conduct a mass burning of ivory and rhino horn, setting fire to about 105 tons of ivory and 1.35 tons of rhino horn, representing about 4000 dead elephants. . The scale of the burning towers over Kenyatta's March 2015 fire of 15 tons of elephant ivory, called the largest ever burned in Africa, a 10-foot tall pyre that smoldered for days until the ivory was reduced to ash.
"Anybody holding any ivory, rhino horns or any other wildlife trophies or jewelry or trinkets made from these materials should surrender them," environment minister Judi Wakhungu told reporters, as preparations for the giant burning ceremony were launched in Nairobi National Park under the responsibility of the Kenya Wildlife Services. .
"Those who take advantage of this amnesty will not be punished."
"Although the destruction of ivory and rhino horn will not in itself put an end to the illegal trade in these items, it demonstrates Kenya's commitment to seeking a total global ban in the trade of ivory and rhino horn," Wakhungu added.
More than 30,000 elephants are killed for their ivory every year in Africa to satisfy demand in Asia where raw tusks sell for around $1,100 (1,000 euros) a kilogramme (2.2 pounds).
"The poaching of elephants and rhinos and illegal wildlife trade is a major problem across much of Africa, it threatens the very survival of these iconic species," Wakhungu said.
Clinton Global Initiative Partners For Elephants
"Poaching is facilitated by international criminal syndicates and fuels corruption." The Clinton Global Initiative cites ivory poaching as among the world's most lucrative criminal activities, valued at $7-10 billion annually. Ivory poaching ranks fifth behind trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting. These illegal syndicates frequently overlap with criminal networks often participating in more than one illegal activity. To achieve its goal of elephant poaching, CSI maintains a three-pronged attack:
1) Stop the killing; 2) Stop the trafficking; and 3) Stop the demand. The Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare and Conservation International have partnered with 11 other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to lead this three-pronged approach and halt the decline of African elephants by the end of 2016.
Late last week, Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Kitili Mbathi echoed this same determination, after receiving the consignment of ivory for clearance, before moving under heavy security to the Nairobi National Park.
"This is part of our plea for the total ban of ivory and Rhino horn trade globally so that we can kill the demand for these and enable our iconic species which are really in danger of extinction to thrive again," he stated.
Africa-Wide Wildlife Summit April 29-30
The ivory burning ceremony will coincide with Kenya's inaugural international wildlife summit that will host several heads of state, conservationists, and Hollywood figures on April 29-30. .
Named the Giants’ Club Summit, the event will “work towards the goal of developing a more cohesive, continent-wide response to the poaching of elephants and the trade in illegal-wildlife trophies,” said State House spokesperson, Manoah Esipisu in a statement.
Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman and business leaders George Soros, Paul Allen, Howard Buffett (son of Warren Buffett) and Michael Bloomberg will attend the event, also called the Elephant Protection Initiative. Renowned broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough, musician Elton John and former NBA player Yao Ming, a prominent activist trying to dissuade the Chinese from buying ivory, will attend.
Leonardo DiCaprio donated $1 million to the Elephant Crisis Fund in May 2014, a gift for which he was honored at the Clinton Global Initiative's 10th Annual Meeting. In 2015, DeCaprio donated $3 million to the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) tiger conservation program in Nepal.