Kenya burns record ivory stock­pile

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

NAIROBI — Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta on Satur­day set fire to the world’s big­gest stock­pile of ivory and rhino horn as a sign that Kenya does not tol­er­ate wildlife poach­ing.

Keny­atta was ac­com­pa­nied by the Pres­i­dent of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba, Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto, and other dig­ni­taries to set ablaze 105 tons of ivory and 1.35 tons of rhino horn worth about 15 bil­lion Kenya Shillings at the Nairobi Na­tional Park.

Keny­atta, also ac­com­pa­nied by first lady Mar­garet Keny­atta, called on other na­tions to join Kenya in launch­ing a di­rect at­tack on the trade in ivory and other wildlife tro­phies.

“Ivory be­longs to our ele­phants. There will not be a mar­ket in it,” he said as he called for a com­plete ban on any form of trade in ivory.

Keny­atta fended off ar­gu­ments by peo­ple op­posed to Kenya’s burn­ing of the ivory and rhino horn.

“For us ivory is worth­less un­less it is on an ele­phant. I will rather wait for the judge­ment of the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions who I am sure will ap­pre­ci­ate the ac­tion we have taken,” he said.

Kenya was a blessed na­tion with a rich her­itage and all Kenyans had a duty to pre­serve what na­ture had be­stowed on the coun­try, he added.

Af­ter light­ing the fire — which ex­perts say will take sev­eral days to com­pletely de­stroy the ivory and rhino horn — Keny­atta an­nounced that the gates of the Nairobi Na­tional Park would be opened for youth aged 17 and be­low.

The youth would ac­cess the park for free and wit­ness for them­selves the big­gest haul of ivory ever burnt by any gov­ern­ment in the world. Some crit­ics have ar­gued that Kenya should have sold off the il­le­gal ivory stocks to raise money for other uses.

Also at the event were se­nior rep­re­senta- tives from for­eign na­tions, in­clud­ing French Ecol­ogy Min­is­ter Se­go­lene Royal, and knighted States Deputy Sec­re­tary of State for Man­age­ment and Re­sources Heather Hig­gin­bot­tom.

Ondimba said poach­ers were a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity and if not dealt with could eas­ily morph into big­ger threats.

“We are go­ing to put you out of busi­ness and the best thing for you to do is to re­tire from your il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said, warn­ing poach­ers that their time was up.

Ruto said burn­ing the ivory sig­ni­fied Kenya’s com­mit­ment to pre­serve its her­itage.

“Today marks a his­toric mo­ment as we send the strong­est mes­sage ever to poach­ers, traders, and pur­chasers of ivory and rhino that their trade is worth­less and val­ue­less and evil,” he said.

Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Judy Wakhungu said burn­ing the ivory sym­bol­ised Kenya’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to pre­serve its her­itage.

Chair­man of the Kenya Wildlife Ser­vice Dr Richard Leakey called on other coun­tries to join Kenya in tak­ing a strong stand against trade in ivory.

The representatives from the US and France read mes­sages from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande re­spec­tively, ex­press­ing their sup­port for Kenya’s po­si­tion on the pro­tec­tion of wildlife and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Kenya was the first coun­try ever to burn ivory when former pres­i­dent Daniel arap Moi set alight il­le­gal stocks in 1989.

The ac­tion has since been copied by many other coun­tries.

Kenyans took to so­cial me­dia to ex­press their views on the ac­tion of burn­ing ivory with some sup­port­ing and oth­ers con­demn­ing it. — African News Agency

fire­men stand By At the ready As pyres of ivory Are set on fire in Nairobi Na­tional Park.

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