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Kenya press ahead with Ivory campaign

Updated: 2016-04-16 19:06
By Lucie Morangi (chinadaily.com.cn)

Kenyan officials started receiving containers of ivory today in preparation of destroying the biggest stockpile in Africa.

Director General Kitili Mbathi was on hand to receive the haul from Narok. Mbathi said more was on the way from Voi, Mombasa, Nanyuki and other parts of the country.

"We are going to destroy 105 tons of elephant tusks and 1.5 tons of rhino horns on April 30 in a symbolic gesture that says tusks have no intrinsic value unless they are on elephants that are alive," Mbathi said.

"We are trying to promote a total ban of ivory and rhino horns to protect future generations. We are committed to saving them."

The majority of the ivory is from Nairobi and Tsavo national park in Kenya, but recently ivory from Uganda and Central Africa were confiscated during transit.

The tusks have code numbers that are first verified against an electronic national database developed in 2014. It states the country and town with the year before being stored into containers and sealed, ready to be transported to the burning sites inside Nairobi National Park.

The burning site is where previous ceremonies took place. The first one was set ablaze by President Daniel Arap Moi in 1989. It was followed by Manyani in 2011. And last year’s ceremony was conducted by President Uhuru Kenyatta where they burned 15 tons.

Initially, the state agency announced a haul of 150 tones but it was been scaled down to create inventory for scientific research. They would take the big tusks weighing over 50kgs.

"Most tuskers that carried them are now extinct. Research will be based on their DNA and other important characteristics that we want to retain," said Mbathi.

The ivory burn event is scheduled for the end of this month. Former NBA all-star Yao Ming is scheduled to join other Hollywood stars to boost Kenya's elephant conservation efforts.

It will be held five months before the CITES conference in South Africa.

"The ceremony will be another symbolic gesture to reduce the value of the ivory," Mbathi said.

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