NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Tuesday afternoon set on fire 15 tonnes of elephant tusks in what is seen as Jubilee government’s major move to fight poaching in Kenya.
The event to be hosted by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) at the Nairobi National Park coincides with the World Wildlife Day.
In July 1989, former President Daniel Arap Moi ignited 12 tonnes of ivory in Nairobi.
In July 2011, immediate former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki also set on fire a mound of more than five tonnes of elephant ivory numbering 335 tusks and 41,000 trinkets which had been confiscated in Singapore.
The 2011 burning, though hosted by Kenya, was carried out by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, a group of seven African countries that work to protect flora and fauna.
The ivory was confiscated by officials in Singapore in 2002 and then sent to Kenya where DNA analysis determined that the tusks originated in Zambia and Malawi.
“We cannot quantify in monetary terms the value of the consignment, because Kenya does not trade in ivory,” KWS Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto said at the site where preparations for the torching of the ivory were taking place.
The inferno will burn for five days under 24-hour guard, which will see the tusks reduced to charcoal according to Udoto.
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 crisis in 1989 but far below the country’s peak.
The World Wildlife Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly on December 20, 2013 to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.
The 2015 theme is “Wildlife Crime is serious; let’s get serious about wildlife crime”.