In 2 days time, on the 2oth of July, Kenya will burn 5 tons of ivory, not her own stockpile but part of a shipment that was sized in Singapore in 2002. The tusks originated from Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.
Bonaventure Ebayi, the director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, said the burning of the ivory follows an agreement reached by the three countries in May in Nairobi. This will be the second burning of ivory in Kenya. In 1989 torched 12 tons of ivory in a statement that led to the ban on international trade in ivory. Elephant populations across Africa began to recover soon after international markets were closed. But conservationists now warn that recent experimental sales form four Southern African countries to China and Japan, have re-ignited the demand for ivory leading to a renewed spate of poaching.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants reported that the latest loss was that of Khadija, a radio collard elephant matriarch that was killed on the 12th of July in Samburu District northern Kenya. He warns that the Samburu population of elephants is now experiencing the highest rate of poaching in the last 10 years.
Male elephants with the largest tusks are targeted in favour of females leasing to a skewed sex ratio of 70% males. Read the full press release here.
In a recent article in Vanity Fair on the crisis facing African elephants, Alex Shoumatoff predicts that the poaching of elephants is partly related to the the growing presence of Chinese expatriates who get preferential treatment in Kenya and across Africa. Without hard evidence to back this up it’s hard for governments to challenge China. But we can all agree to one thing – that the demand for ivory must be reduced in order to halt the escalating ivory prices which is driving the killings across Africa.
I will be there to witness the burn of ivory and on behalf of WildlifeDirect I will be urging the Kenyan Government to burn the remaining 60 tons of ivory in the countries stockpile.
The Lusaka Task Force is Africa’s interpol on illegal wildlife Trade. It is charged with implementing the 1992 Lusaka Agreement designed to help African law enforcement.
Save the Elephants headed by Ian Douglas-Hamilton is the leading conservation organization studying and protecting elephants in northern Kenya