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Death of four jumbos overshadows Nairobi ivory burning fete

Elephants killed by poachers. PHOTO | FILE
Elephants killed by poachers. PHOTO | FILE 

The killing of four jumbos in Samburu’s Namunyak Conservancy has overshadowed the planned burning of ivory on April 30.

Speaking at the site where 105 tonnes of ivory and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn will be destroyed at the Nairobi National Park, Kenya Wildlife Service Director- General Kitili Mbathi expressed optimism that its intelligence network and community policing teams would continue working with resident communities to track down the poachers and their financiers.

“We have intensified patrols at all national parks and game reserves as a way of ensuring our jumbos are safe. What we want the world to do is to eradicate ivory and rhino horn trade completely. Our rallying call is to ensure no one benefits from killing jumbos or rhinos,” he said.

Kenya plans to make its international appeal to countries still allowing trade in ivory to cease forthwith during the April 30 event.

“We need to see the bigger picture about these iconic creatures that we should keep safe forever for posterity. Kenya will on April 30 make its stand known, like it has done on three other occasions which has seen interest in ivory trade go down,” said Mr Mbathi.

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Last week, poachers struck at Namunyak Community Conservancy where they killed four jumbos and harvested their ivory.

Mr Mbathi said KWS would seek closer ties with communities living on the edge of animal sanctuaries, while community members would in turn be expected to join KWS in protecting the jumbos.

KWS also plans to erect electric fences in farming areas to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

The ivory and rhino horn haul that is set to be burned was sourced from private and public sanctuaries where jumbos and rhinos have suffered natural deaths and also killings by poachers.

In yesterday’s event, Mr Mbathi oversaw verification and breaking of the seal of one of the containers stacked with ivory at the site of the burning inside the Nairobi National Park.

Tourism secretary Najib Balala also witnessed the occasion and said the ivory burning will be a defining moment.

Mr Balala said Safari tourism, which accounts for the lion’s share of tourists visiting Kenya, is a product of wildlife hence the need to jealously guard this precious heritage.

He urged people holding wildlife trophies to take advantage of the amnesty by the government and surrender them to KWS. 

The haul of elephant ivory and rhino horn earmarked for burning is the largest under KWS custody, save for some quantity that is subject to court cases and another that will be stored for historical and education purposes.

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