Hollywood stars to witness Uhuru burn Sh25 billion ivory
Hollywood stars will be among high profile people to witness the biggest burning of tusks in decades on Saturday in Nairobi.
The stockpile to be destroyed, according to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), consists of 105 tonnes of ivory and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn.
The occasion will be witnessed by Hollywood celebrities, presidents and business leaders who are against “poaching and illegal trade in ivory.”
Among those expected in Nairobi for the event include actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman, business tycoons George Soros, Paul Allen, Howard Buffet, Michael Bloomberg, British musician Elton John, and former Chinese basketball Yao Ming.
Yao Ming, has been leading campaigns in his homeland China to raise awareness of the damage that elephant poaching causes.
BLACK MARKET PRICES
Kenya’s stockpile, if illegally sold on the black market at current prices, could be worth over Sh25 billion, but conservationists say sale of ivory only serves to fuel further poaching.
KWS has started moving elephant tusks and rhino horns from its regional centres to the headquarters in Nairobi, where they will be set on fire as a symbol of the country’s protest at the continued slaughter of endangered wildlife.
KWS spokesperson Paul Gathitu said tight security is in place to monitor the transportation of the ivory and ensure every piece reaches the headquarters.
Wardens have started stacking the 105 tonnes of ivory and 1 tonne of rhino horns to make 12 towers which will be torched to encourage global efforts to help stop poaching of elephant and rhino.
The fire will be eight times the size of any ivory stockpile destroyed so far.
LARGEST STOCKPILE DESTROYED
“Kenya plans to use the occasion to torch as many as 120 tonnes of ivory, the largest stockpile of ivory ever destroyed by any country, as proof of our commitment to zero tolerance for poaching and illegal ivory trade,?” presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu told reporters.
Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory ornaments as a sign of financial success.