Kenya decided to make a statement against illegal elephant poaching by burning a huge ivory tusk stockpile. The stockpile consisted of ivory from elephants and rhinos.
Kenya is setting fire to more than 100 tonnes of ivory in a move aimed at showing its commitment to saving Africa’s population of elephants.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has ignited the first of 11 huge pyres in Nairobi National Park, which are expected to burn for several days.
But some disagree with the approach, saying it can encourage poaching and will make the cost of ivory soar.
For the past week, several dozen men have been unloading elephant tusks from shipping containers – some of them are so big it takes two men to carry one tusk – and building them into towers of ivory up to 10 feet tall.
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) April 29, 2016
What looked like an elephant graveyard has now turned into a crematorium as the fire spreads.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has lit up 105 tons of elephant ivory, 1.35 tons of rhino horn, exotic animal skins and other products such as sandalwood and medicinal bark.
The burning comes after African leaders urged an end to illegal trade in ivory, that often results in the deaths of hordes of animals.
Kitili Mbathi, director general of the Kenya Wildlife Service said: “We don’t believe there is any intrinsic value in ivory, and therefore we’re going to burn all our stockpiles and demonstrate to the world that ivory is only valuable on elephants.
“From a Kenyan perspective, we’re not watching any money go up in smoke.
“The only value of the ivory is tusks on a live elephant.”
The ivory represents nearly the entire stock confiscated by Kenya, amounting to the tusks of about 6,700 elephants.
The street value of the ivory that is being destroyed is estimated at more than $100m (£70m), and the rhino horn at $80m.
Experts have warned Africa’s elephants could be extinct within decades an urgent actions must be taken to protect the species.
But not everyone agrees that the burning, which is the biggest in history, will send out a positive conservationist message.