More than 100 tonnes of ivory has been set ablaze in Kenya, the largest ever such fire, in an attempt to shock the world into protecting endangered elephants.
Eleven giant pyres of tusks from around 6,000 elephants, a quantity seven times the size of any previous burn, were lit by the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, at a ceremony in Nairobi national park on Saturday.
Kenyatta, who was joined by other African leaders and foreign officials, has demanded a total ban on the ivory trade to protect the future of wild elephants on the continent. The move has been supported by a range of conservation groups.
On the bonfire were tusks, ivory sculptures and rhino horn confiscated by the Kenyan authorities and said to be worth up to $105m (£82m) on the black market.
Speaking to a large audience before opening the ceremony, Kenyatta said: “Kenya is making a statement that for us ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants. This will send an absolutely clear message that the trade in ivory must come to an end and our elephants must be protected. I trust that the world will join us to end the horrible suffering of our herds and save our elephants for future generations.”
The ceremony was designed to highlight the decline in Africa’s wild elephant population and the impact of poaching. Each year more than 30,000 elephants are killed for their tusks.