On Saturday, April 30th, Kenyan officials will set ablaze 105 tonnes of “blood ivory”, tusks brutally extracted from butchered elephants and intended for trade – a practice prohibited for 27 years.
Despite this international moratorium on ivory, the current rate of poaching amounts to one elephant every 15 minutes. One majestic, unique, sentient elephant every 15 minutes, of every day. At such a rate, the world’s wild elephants will disappear within our lifetime.
Saturday’s event intends to protest this grotesque state of affairs, fire up public sentiment against ivory trade, and make a statement to the world that elephants are #WorthMoreAlive.
And that they certainly are.
The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that leisure tourism generated USD2.3 billion for the Kenyan economy in 2014. Multiply that over several years, and compare it to the USD30million estimated black market value of the soon-to-be-incinerated ivory and the math says it all: #WorthMoreAlive
Recent years have seen ivory stockpile destruction in China, France, Gabon, United States, France, Belgium, the Philippines, Chad and more. The Kenyan government ignited this trend in 1989, when it became the first country to burn ivory in a symbolic act defying commercial trade in the material – which was later banned that same year.
Saturday’s burn will be the largest to date, by far. The 2014 ivory burn in Hong Kong was previously the largest, with 30 tonnes disposed of – a fraction of what will be burnt in Kenya.
Let’s put 105 tonnes into perspective: with elephant tusks ranging anywhere from 10-100 kg per pair, 100+ tonnes represents 10,000 to 100,000 individual elephants. Thousands of spectacular specimens, slain for nothing. For crime. For mantle-piece décor.
But this burn is about more than destroying contraband. It’s a global wake up call, hoping to engage the world in critical conversation about the elephant extinction crisis, and the illegal trade behind it. Turning out in support of the cause will be a high-profile guest list of heads of state, conservation icons and Hollywood celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, David Attenborough and Elton John. You too can join by pledging publicly (or virtually!) your support for an ivory ban, raise awareness of the illegal trade and reporting any wildlife crime you may encounter.