Kenya on April 30, 2016 set ablaze 105 tonnes of ivory and another 1.35 tonne of rhino horn at a historic occasion presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ali Bongo of Gabon, and a host of other dignitaries from across the world.
The burning that took place at the Nairobi National Park sent a clear message from the Kenyan government that there is no relenting on the war to preserve endangered wildlife species.
President Kenyatta was the first to light one of the 11 pyres of piled masses of tusks and horn followed by other dignitaries who graced the landmark occasion.
The ivory was stacked in pyramid-shaped pyres, including one for rhino horn. A crowd of local and international dignitaries, including first lady Mrs Margaret Kenyatta, and Deputy President William Ruto witnessed the historic burn.
President Kenyatta was categorical about the country’s position on trade on ivory and demanded its total ban and an end to what he termed as a “murderous” wave of poaching.
“For Kenya, ivory is worthless unless it is on an elephant. I would rather wait for the judgement of the future generations who, I am sure, will appreciate the action we have taken”, said President Kenyatta.
He added, “While I agree that Kenya is a poor country, we have a rich heritage. Those who say this act will not work and that poaching will be on the rise, time has come to fight these vices”.
Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretary General John Scanlon said the burn was an apt message by conservationists.
“This is to draw attention to the illegal wildlife trade; a clear message that the days of wildlife crime are over”, Scanlon said
The historic burning was preceded by a two-day inaugural Giants Club summit in Nanyuki that brought together Presidents Kenyatta, Gabon’s Ali Bongo, and president Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
The three presidents said killing of the ivory market will be the surest way to end poaching and committed themselves to fight poaching. President Kenyatta said Kenya will push for a total ban of ivory trade during the 17th CITES meeting to be held in September this year.