Kenya to torch ivory stockpile worth $100m

29 April 2016 - 02:16 By AFP

Thousands of elephant tusks are being piled high into pyres as Kenya prepares to torch its vast ivory stockpile hoping to stop trafficking and prevent extinction of elephants in the wild.Time is running out: at current rates of elephant killing, conservationists warn large herds of elephants will be wiped out within decades from all but the most protected of parks.Following a regional summit to boost awareness of the threat of poaching and push efforts to end trafficking of ivory entirely, Kenya will take the symbolic step of torching almost the entirety of its stores, seven times the size of any stockpile destroyed so far.The mass burning tomorrow will see Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta destroying 105 tons of ivory, representing more than 6700 elephants - or about 5% of global stores. Another 1.35 tons of rhino horn will also be burnt. It is a grand statement: on the black market, that quantity of ivory could sell for more than $100-million, and the rhino horn could raise $80-million.Africa is home to between 450000 to 500000 elephants, but more than 30000 are killed every year on the continent to satisfy demand for ivory in Asia, where raw tusks sell for around $1000 a kilogram.In neighbouring Tanzania the elephant population has slumped from about 110000 in 2009 to just 43000 in 2014, according to official statistics.Tomorrow's burn is the latest of several ivory burns. Malaysia burned almost 10 ton s of ivory seized from smugglers earlier this month.In West Africa, Cameroon followed days later by torching six tons of ivory.

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