The Kenya government plans to destroy all illegal wildlife products in the custody of Kenya Wildlife Service and any other government body by the end of next month.
According to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities, Prof Judi Wakhungu, the ‘big burn’ is a concluded decision at high government level. It will be witnessed by key political, conservation and celebrity personalities expected to grace the grand event at the Nairobi National Park.
“Kenya remains an important link of trade routes to international destinations for illicit consignments of wildlife products and particularly ivory. As a country, Kenya is concerned with the use of her entry and exit points for trafficking of these illegal wildlife products,” said Prof Wakhungu
Last year, 15 tonnes of contraband ivory were destroyed through burning at the same park at an event presided over by Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Burning of illegal wildlife products sends the subtle message that these products are priceless. It is also a demonstration of the country’s abhorrence for illegal trade in precious flora and fauna products.
Prof Wakhungu made the announcement during celebrations to mark this year’s World Wildlife Day at Maasai Mara University in Narok County. The colourful event was witnessed by among others US Ambassador to Kenya HE Robert Godec and Narok County Governor Samuel Tunai.
Narok County was chosen to host this year’s event because it is a hotspot of human-wildlife conflict, has experienced a high incidence of elephant and rhino poaching and lion poisoning. The region has also undergone major land use change that is threatening wildlife existence.
Meanwhile, Kenya is set to receive 4.1 million US dollars towards wildlife conservation efforts. Ambassador Godec made the announcement during the celebrations and further committed the US government for continued assistance to Kenya in wildlife conservation.
The 3rd of March of every year was designated by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES) and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, the World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.
This day offers an opportunity for the people of Kenya and visitors to celebrate the beauty and variety of the thousands of plants and animals that share our planet earth and reflect on the measures as a people we have put in place to ensure no species of fauna or flora becomes extinct because of our actions.
This year’s event was jointly organized by KWS and the following sponsors who made contributions to its success: World Wildlife Fund (WWF), County Government of Narok, Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA), Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Born Free.
With over 25,000 species of wild animals, and 7000 species of plants, Kenya ranks highly as one of the bio-diverse rich countries in the world. The country also boasts of over 50 protected areas both terrestrial and marine.