Kenya conservation breaking news – Burn Ivory Burn on 20th July 2011


Kenya is set to burn ivory again in a show of defiance against poaching and commercial pressure to join other countries wanting to sell ivory stocks on the open market, when on 20th of July, in a public high profile event, President Mwai Kibaki will set over 300 confiscated tusks and processed ivory on fire in Nairobi.

The ivory was confiscated nearly 10 years ago in Singapore and through DNA analysis traced back to Zambia but reportedly shipped via Kenya at the time, and with Zambia at loggerheads with the Lusaka based CITES Secretariat over their and Tanzania’s application to sell ivory stocks, Singapore reached an agreement with Kenya which ensure the destruction of the ivory.

Notably it is the Lusaka Agreement of 1994 under which African countries signed on to protect their wildlife and first reduce and then eliminate the illegal trading in wildlife and nature products.

Kenya was the first country, when then President Daniel arap Moi, together with the then Executive Director of Kenya Wildlife Service Dr. Richard Leakey burned 12 tons of ivory stocks on 19th July 1989, shocking the world when the news broadcasts went around the globe showing the extent of poaching in Africa. Now, almost to the day 22 years later, Kenya will again set a shining example when destroying blood ivory, demand for which has risen exponentially by the greed for the ‘white gold’ by in particular Chinese buyers, turning the spotlight on the Chinese government for not nearly doing enough to stop the illegal importation of blood ivory and other prohibited wildlife products like rhino horn into China.

Conservationists have for long advocated that China strengthens domestic legislation to prevent importation, trade, processing and possession of ivory and other wildlife products, and their failure to act decisively has led to an explosion of cases in Africa where Chinese citizens were arrested at airports, sea ports and inland for illegal possession of blood ivory. At the same time was a noticeable increase in poaching registered near areas where Chinese companies have work camps and are engaged in major infrastructure projects or other economic activities like mining, setting the conservation fraternity on a collision course with the Chinese government until remedial measures are introduced and strictly enforced.

Kenya’s action is bound to give renewed impetus to the global coalition against lifting any ban on trade of ivory products and illegal wildlife and nature products and it is expected that the next CITES Congress will again deny applications by certain African countries to obtain an exemption from these rules, more likely than not also compelling them in the end to burn or otherwise destroy the ivory in order to protect endangered species in the long term.

Meanwhile it is all kudos and bouquets for Kenya and barbs for those countries seeking to evade CITES rules and regulations. 



2 Responses

  1. You don’t say where the Ivory burn will take place? Can you please let me know? Many thanks, Karen Mathews