Kenya will be setting fire on over 105 tons of ivory on Saturday, making a strong statement in the poaching threat and wildlife crime that continues to plague the country.
The burning of the ivory, which reportedly worth over $30 million, will be condemnation of the continuing poaching and killing of the vulnerable elephants and rhinos, alarmingly putting them to extinction. This event will be the largest burning of ivory that the world has ever seen.
“From a Kenyan perspective, we’re not watching any money go up in smoke,” said Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Kitili Mbathi. “The only value of the ivory is tusks on a live elephant.”
The elephants roaming Africa has plunges from 1.2 million in the 1970s to an alarming 400,000 today, Vice reported. Between 2010 and 2012, over 30,000 were poached, resulting to threats of wiping these creatures out in some regions. Rhinos, on the other hand, are now numbering around less than 30,000.
One of the main reasons why poaching continues–despite advanced efforts like drones, GPS collar, and armed guards–is that the people who do it are rarely held accountable. According to the Nairobi non-profit WildlifeDirect, only about 10 per cent of these poachers are arrested, and the proceedings are rife with corruption.
“My feeling is that many people who are buying this ivory in China and elsewhere simply don’t know what it is doing to elephants. Maybe they think that it is coming off elephants that have died of natural causes,” Paleontologist-turned-politician Richard Leakey told Scientific American.
“When Kenya burns $100 million worth of ivory, they’ll say, ‘What the hell was that about?’ It will help open their eyes to what is actually happening.”
The ivory burning will end the Giants Club summit of African leaders atteneded by conservation groups, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, United Nations and United States officials, and heads of state from Gabon and Uganda.