The Kenyan government has issued a 21 day amnesty for the surrender of any wildlife trophy without Kenya Wildlife Service permit. Those who take advantage of the amnesty, which took effect from March 30, 2016 will not be punished. Speaking during the launch of site preparations for the historic burning of elephant ivory and rhino horns, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Regional Development, Prof. Judi Wakhungu said, “Anybody holding any ivory, rhino horns or any other wildlife trophies, jewellery or trinkets to surrender to the KWS Director General at the KWS headquarters. The items can also be surrendered to the Assistant Directors at KWS regional offices in Mombasa, Voi, Nyeri, Marsabit, Nakuru, Kitale and Meru National Park.”
Prof. Wakhungu stated that the government of Kenya, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta will on April 30, 2016 set ablaze the world’s largest stockpile of elephant ivory and rhino horns ever to be burnt. The government has attached great significance to this State event and to this end, the president has invited dignitaries from all over the world who will come to express solidarity with Kenyans in conservation efforts. Although the destruction of ivory and rhino horns will not in itself put an end to the illegal trade in these items, it demonstrates Kenya’s commitment to seeking a total global ban of ivory and rhino horns.
Speaking to the media at the same event, our Chief Executive Officer Dr. Paula Kahumbu also emphasized the importance of not attaching economic use to ivory and rhino horns. WildlifeDirect continues to work towards change of hearts, minds and laws to protect elephants. Our current campaign dubbed HandsOffOurElephants focuses on raising awareness and political support to stop poaching, trafficking and buying of ivory.
As a build up to the upcoming Ivory and Rhino Horn Burn, WildlifeDirect is working in collaboration with other partners including KWS and USAID to hold a Conservation Media event that will rally people around the globe to make commitments to act to save the elephants and rhinos.
Prof. Wakhungu further stated that the poaching of elephants and rhinos and illegal wildlife trade continues to be a major problem in Africa and threatens the very survival of these iconic species. Poaching is facilitated by international criminal syndicates and fuels corruption. It is important for the public to know that the poaching undermines the rule of law and funds other criminal activities that not only harm local communities but also national economies.
In the past three years, Kenya has redoubled its efforts and put measures in combating elephant poaching and illegal trade in elephant ivory within and across its boarders. In 2014, 164 elephants were poached in the country which significantly reduced to 96 elephants in 2015. Also in 2014, 35 rhinos were illegally killed compared to 11 in 2015. Another key milestone that was highlighted was the national audit of the stockpile of ivory and rhinoceroses horn for enhance monitoring and management purpose. The audit recorded 135.8 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns.