Rs 660-crore ivory bonfire in Kenya

To protest against the poaching crisis, the country's president Uhuru Kenyatta will torch 105 tonnes of ivory at Nairobi National Park

Nairobi: Kenya will set fire to more than 105 tonnes of elephant tusks, representing several thousand dead elephants today. This ivory burn is believed to be the largest-ever destruction of ivory stockpile in Africa's history.

A wildlife conservationist poses with a placard bearing the message 'WorthMoreAlive' advocating for an end to elephant poaching, next to illegal stockpiles of elephant tusks at Nairobi's national park. Pic/AFP
A wildlife conservationist poses with a placard bearing the message 'WorthMoreAlive' advocating for an end to elephant poaching, next to illegal stockpiles of elephant tusks at Nairobi's national park. Pic/AFP

The Kenyan stockpile is worth over $100 million (R660 crore) and South Africa is sitting on nearly $2 billion worth of rhino horn.

A total of 16,000 tusks and other ivory products have been arranged in eleven giant piles at Nairobi National Park. Wildlife officials and conservationists believe that burning of the ivory will send a strong message against poaching and wildlife trafficking.

"It will be a pleasure to burn it and do my part to destroy any possibility that poachers and their accomplices might benefit from the slaughter of Kenya's elephants," President Kenyatta said in a statement published in Kenya Daily Nation. "When it comes to the trade in ivory – which is destroying our wildlife and funding some of the most extreme violence on the continent – some fail to see that the ivory should also be destroyed."

Since ivory doesn't burn easily, several metric tons of illegally cut sandalwood seized from smugglers have been placed at the base of the ivory piles. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will light the pyres today, and a fuel mixture of kerosene and diesel will be pumped with pressurized air through steel pipes into each pyre to help incinerate the ivory. The destruction of ivory can take several days.

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