Kenya has burned more than $310million worth of ivory in a bold sign of commitment to declaring a war on ivory trade and poaching, according to AP reports.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on April 30, 2016 lit fire on the 105 tonnes of ivory, stack up in 11 huge pyramid-shaped pyres, which is expected to burn for at least three days.
Speaking at the burning ceremony, President Kenyatta said Kenya will not tolerate ivory trade in the country,
More so that Kenya has to grapple with “a new generation of poachers with sophisticated weapons who are threatening national heritage and safety of communities.”
Saturday, the Head of State said in Nairobi that the move to burn the ivory has elicited discussion on the effectiveness of burning the ivory as opposed to selling it and using the funds to develop the country.
He said: “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.”
Further, he dismissed speculations that the burning would cause a rise in the prices of ivory thus encouraging more poaching.
US President Barrack Obama and his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Saturday joined Kenya in calling for a global ban on ivory trade.
This was contained in speeches delivered on their behalf.
President Hollande said he would lobby European countries to declare a total ban on ivory trade and also mobilise funds to help Kenya improve wildlife conservation measures.
The American leader said Kenya would continue receiving financial aid to combat poaching.
He added that the U.S. had granted the country Sh5 billion in the last three years.
Gabon President Ali Bongo attended the burning ceremony.
He said African governments must speak in one language to safeguard the future of elephants.
This they could do by burning all their stockpiles as a commitment to the ongoing calls for a total ban on ivory trade.
Kenya Wildlife Service chairman, Richard Leakey said countries still keeping piles of ivory were speculators waiting for the prices to rise in order to sell.
Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Secretary-general John E. Scanlon said:
“This has drawn attention to the illegal wildlife trade a clear message that the days of wildlife crime are over.”
He added: “This is like any other crime.
“You cannot hide, you cannot store them and even a thumbnail of ivory we will get you and we will punish you.”
Conservationists have said Kenya’s elephant population has dwindled by 95,000 elephants to 35, 000 since 1973.
Mr Kenyatta was cheered on by world leaders, dignitaries and celebrities at the ceremony conducted Saturday afternoon at the Nairobi National Park.