Kenya Burns 5 Tons of Contraband Ivory

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 1:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Kenya's president has set fire to more than five tons of elephant ivory to highlight the problem of poaching in East Africa.

President Mwai Kibaki lit a pile of ivory that included more than 300 confiscated tusks as well as more than 40,000 ivory trinkets. The estimated value of the ivory was $16 million.

Mr. Kibaki said the burn demonstrates Kenya's determination to eliminate all forms of illegal trade in ivory. He said selling the ivory after it has been confiscated instead of burning it would undermine the system of trying to stamp out poaching.

The burned ivory was confiscated by officials in Singapore in 2002.

Kenya first set fire to a mound of ivory in 1989 to raise awareness of a poaching crisis that sent Africa's elephant population plummeting.

Kenya, with its large elephant herds, is a major source of smuggled ivory. Ivory is highly sought in Asia for use in traditional medicine, jewelry, and decorative ornaments.