http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/kenya-to-torch-huge-elephant-tusk-stockpile/article/464205

Kenya lights world's biggest ivory bonfire, demands tusk trade ban

Posted Apr 29, 2016 by AFP
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to the world's biggest ivory bonfire Saturday, after demanding a total ban on trade in tusks and horns to end "murderous" trafficking and prevent the extinction of elephants in the wild.
Stockpiles of elephant tusks are stacked up onto pyres at Nairobi's national park waiting to be...
Stockpiles of elephant tusks are stacked up onto pyres at Nairobi's national park waiting to be burned along with more than a tonne of rhino-horn at what is said to be the biggest stockpile destruction in history
Tony Karumba, AFP

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to the world's biggest ivory bonfire Saturday, after demanding a total ban on trade in tusks and horns to end "murderous" trafficking and prevent the extinction of elephants in the wild.

"The height of the pile of ivory before us marks the strength of our resolve," Kenyatta said, before setting fire to the pyres.

"No-one, and I repeat no-one, has any business in trading in ivory, for this trade means death of our elephants and death of our natural heritage."

Kenya prepares to burn its ivory stockpile
Kenya prepares to burn its ivory stockpile
, AFP

Eleven giant pyres of tusks, and another of rhino horns, are arranged in a semi-circle now expected to burn for days in Nairobi's national park.

Huge white clouds of smoke spiralled high into the sky, with thousands of litres of diesel and kerosene injected though steel pipes buried in the ground leading into the heart of the pyramids to fuel the blaze.

President Ali Bongo from Gabon, who lit one of the pyres, spoke of the "massacre" of forest elephants in central Africa, and said he backed moves to close all sale of ivory.

President Uhuru Kenyatta (2nd R) walks away after setting light to stacks of ivory at the Nairobi Na...
President Uhuru Kenyatta (2nd R) walks away after setting light to stacks of ivory at the Nairobi National Park on April 30, 2016
Carl De Souza, AFP

"Unless we take action now we risk losing this magnificent animal," Bongo said at the ceremony, telling poachers he was "going to put you out of business, so the best thing you can do is to go into retirement now."

Africa is home to between 450,000 and 500,000 elephants, but more than 30,000 are killed every year on the continent to satisfy demand for ivory in Asia, where raw tusks sell for around $1,000 (800 euros) a kilo (2.2 pounds).

The pyres contain some 16,000 tusks and pieces of ivory.

A ranger patrols near stacks of elephant tusks at the Nairobi National Park on April 30  2016
A ranger patrols near stacks of elephant tusks at the Nairobi National Park on April 30, 2016
Carl De Souza, AFP

Kenya has a long history of ivory burnings, spearheading a wider movement of public demonstrations across the world, but nothing on this scale before.

On the black market, such a quantity of ivory could sell for over $100 million, and the rhino horn could raise as much as $80 million.

Rhino horn can fetch as much as $60,000 per kilo -- more than gold or cocaine.

But Kenyatta dismissed those who put cash value on the ivory

"For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants," Kenyatta said.