Dr. Richard Leakey, an acclaimed conservationist and Chairman of Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS), told Xinhua during an interview in Nairobi the east African nation will raise the bar in wildlife protection through burning of trophies estimated at 1 billion U.S. dollars.
While reiterating that Kenya’s wildlife species are priceless, Leakey said the torching of trophies will lower their demand in the international market.
“We expect the price of ivory and rhino horns to fall after the historic burning of a large cache of trophies late this month. We witnessed a similar scenario in 1989 when the country torched a huge consignment of ivory confiscated from poachers,” said Leakey.
The chairman revealed the price of ivory dropped from 300 dollars per kilogram to 5 dollars after Kenya burnt 12 tonnes of elephant tusks in 1989.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will be joined by his counterparts from elephant range states in the continent as well as business moguls, celebrities and campaigners during the torching of ivory and rhino horns at the Nairobi National Park.
It is expected the bold move will galvanize a global attention to the plight of iconic mammals in Africa that are facing the threats of poaching and human encroachment into their habitats.
Leakey noted that by torching tonnes of elephant tusks and rhino horns, Kenya will reaffirm its commitment to stop illegal trade in wildlife products.
He noted that besides enacting punitive legislation, Kenya has partnered with conservation bodies to raise awareness on the plight of big mammals abroad.
In particular, Leakey said anti-poaching campaigns targeting destination markets in the Far East have intensified.
“The younger generation of Asians needs to be educated on the hazards of poaching and why it should desist from buying items made of ivory,” said Leakey.
The chairman hailed China’s support towards Kenya’s anti-poaching program that includes provision of state-of-the-art equipment to help track offenders.
“So far the country (China) through their Embassy in Nairobi has contributed gadgets aimed at managing the national parks to the tune of millions of dollars,” Leakey said.
He said that state agencies have also improved coordination to help track and apprehend criminal networks involved in illegal wildlife trade.
“Life sentence for poachers has served as a warning to individuals contemplating to engage in this vice,” Leakey remarked, adding that vigilance has been intensified in all wildlife sanctuaries in Kenya.