Kenya leads the way as UK and Tanzania lag behind


by Kevin Heath, Wildlife News

Date Published
Today’s burning of 15 tons of ivory and tusks by Kenya has shown the way for other African countries who want to make a stand against elephant poaching. At the burn in Nairobi National Park, President Uhuru Kenyatta committed to burning the remain stockpile of Kenya by the end of this year. Before the 15 tons of tusks going up in flames it was estimated that Kenya had a stockpile of 100 tons.
Kenya has taken a step that other countries in Africa should follow.
As the pile of tusks were being built the UK and Tanzania signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the now dated and ineffective Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI). In the MoU the UK government will give the initiative £10 mullion with Tanzania getting the majority of the grant. Tanzania will use the money to fund an independent audit of its stockpile and after the count to decide on the next step of the plan.
British High Commissioner Dianna Melrose said, “We are providing funding for the independent audit of Tanzania’s Ivory stockpiles-due to begin two weeks from today. I congratulate the Tanzanian government in showing leadership on the elephant protection initiative.”
Minister for Natural Resource and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu said that the EPI is a home grown initiative that shows commitment by President Jakaya Kikwete to end the ivory trade. He also said that it would open up the African continent and the world at large to the efforts to stop elephant poaching and the illegal trade in ivory.
Of course it was not so long ago that Tanzania was considering burning their stockpile and even President Jakaya Kikwete said that the country would be burning its ivory stock just a few weeks before the London Conference where he backtracked and set up the Elephant Protection Initiative with the Stop Ivory NGO.
After the signing Melrose suggested that “We hope Tanzania will encourage other countries to follow its example and join the EPI.”
We would suggest the countries in Africa who want to combat the illegal trade in ivory should instead follow the path laid down by Kenya. Indeed it is a path that Tanzania was going to follow until the London Conference and the offer of money was put before them.
Ivory stockpiles being funded by tax-payers is no different to ivory being funded by the illegal traders. Thee is no place for financial benefit to be gained by the killing of elephants. Kenya realises that which is why they refused to put a financial value on the amount of tusks that they set fire to today.
It is inconceivable that the world through CITES will ever allow another sale of tusks again so there is no reason for keeping tusks in storage.
Rather than leading the way in elephant protection the Elephant Protection Initiative is putting false value on the death of an elephant by providing financial benefits to keeping tusks in storage. The UK in funding this initiative is taking a step backwards in elephant protection and should be more progressive with that funding.
That £10 million should be given to conservation of living elephants not giving a financial value to dead tusks.
If the taxpayers of Tanzania or Botswana or any other member of the EPI wants to pay for storing of tusks that is for them to decide and support, the UK should be taking a more progressive approach to how they spend taxpayer money. It should be spent on conserving living elephants.