Ivory has long been fancied by Western and Asian cultures for its beauty and malleable nature. However, obtaining ivory comes at the cost of an elephant’s life. For this reason, the Ivory trade has been banned since 1989. That said, the black market for ivory continues to this day. It has wreaked havoc on the elephant populations of Africa. In the 1970s, it was estimated that 1.3 million elephants roamed the continent. Today, the population has dwindled by 62% to roughly 500,000. While there are likely various causes for the population decline, most experts concur that the illegal ivory trade is the main culprit.
In a gesture of goodwill, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered his military to set fire to a tower of illegal ivory recently seized in Asia. It is estimated that they ivory weighed in at 15 tons. This would make it the largest of the three such ivory burning events the nation has conducted. The last time ivory was burnt was in 2002 when President Daniel Arap Moi set fire to 12 tons. President Kenyatta’s “ivory tower” is the largest by far.
As per Kenyan authorities, it will take roughly 5 days for the ivory to be reduced to ashes. Lest anyone get ideas that some people will snag some ivory for themselves, armed guards are monitoring the burning 24 hours a day until they confirm it has been utterly consumed. When asked the question as to the monetary value of the ivory, authorities said they could not make that determination. It has been decades since Kenya participated in the ivory trade, and there are isn’t anyone available that can appraise it. The ivory load was confiscated in Singapore. It is believed to have been exported from Malawi and Zambia. The burning of the ivory tower was kicked off on World Wildlife Day.