Uhuru Kenyatta Is Not Playing Around

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has just sent a powerful message to poachers and those who engage in the illegal ivory trade.

Kenya, which introduced the world to burning ivory in 1989, still thinks it’s a good idea. On Saturday morning, it hosted the most spectacular burn event yet: The tusks of nearly 7,000 elephants — 105 metric tons’ worth — were set alight in 11 separate pyres in Nairobi’s National Park.

The tusks, taken from elephants that were poached as well as from those that died naturally, were collected from Kenya’s parks and confiscated at its ports.

The haul represents the bulk of Kenya’s entire ivory stockpile. In addition, a 1.5-ton basket of rhino horn was set on fire. All told, more than $300 million worth of contraband went up in flames.

The article is worth the read, as there are potential concerns as well as benefits to making such a bold statement. However, I don’t think anyone can deny that the effect is powerful. Burning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of anything is going to make an impression, no matter how you slice it. It sends the message ivory should have no monetary value whatsoever, and I have to say I like it.



Damn straight, President Kenyatta.


  1. johnson catman says

    I saw a news blip about the burning. I was horrified by how many elephants that represented that had been killed by poachers. I, too, am glad that the President of Kenya has made this statement. Elephants and other wild species deserve our respect and protection. If humans keep killing everything on the planet, the planet will eventually have no recourse but to kill humans (if we don’t accomplish that ourselves).

  2. lorn says

    I was thinking the other day about how to stop ivory poaching and contemplated that the ivory is somewhat porous. It has the consistency of a tight-grained hardwood.

    It can be stained and having grain any stain will tend to spread along the grain. Tiny amounts of inert dye injected into the tusk under pressure, as with an injection gun commonly used for immunizations, might permanently mark the bulk of the tusk material as new and make it unattractive for carvers. I’m thinking a nice day-glow green would be nice. Perhaps something that will brightly fluoresce under UV light. Nothing like streaks of fluorescent green to make that carving you paid $50,000 for look classy.

    This would of course be done on a live elephant without removing the tusks. Done well the tusk would be obviously discolored and seen as unsuitable for sale at a considerable distance so the poachers know there is nothing to be gained, except a prison sentence, from shooting the animal.

    For rhino the horn could be injected with a combination dye and bittering agent. Nothing screams male potency like a pinch of passionate pink rhino horn that makes you pucker and puke.

  3. johnson catman says

    lorn @2:
    Interesting suggestion. My question would be could the dyes be at all toxic to the animals? As in, since the ivory is porous, could it be absorbed into their bloodstream from the tusks? I know you said “inert” dyes, but you did mention a “bittering agent” for the rhinos. I think a heaving rhino could be a problem. ;-P

  4. says

    There are “big game” hunters that love to kill animals so they can brag about them.
    There are poachers that illegally hunt rhinos and elephants.
    It seems like there’s a natural combination to be had: let the Kenya government sell hunting licenses for poachers, with no bag limit.

  5. says

    On a more practical level, wouldn’t it be possible to embed electronic tracking devices in the tusks/horns?
    This sounds like the kind of thing the NSA and a CIA predator drone or two actually would be useful for.

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