Kenya to burn tusks of over 10,000 elephants


Sanskrit Sinha, International Business Times

Date Published

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Elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, are stacked onto pyres at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, KenyaREUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya will grieve the loss of about 10,000 elephants that were killed for their tusks. The country will mourn the slain animals by burning their tusks in what is said to be the world’s largest funeral pyre for elephants.

As many as 11 stacks of tusks have been piled up for the funeral pyre at Nairobi National Park, according to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a Kenya-based rescue and conservation organisation.

“Each tusk beholds a story of the individual to which it belonged. From the uniqueness in its shape, to its tombstone-like markings – stating the date and area from where a tusk was recovered. While the tusk’s weight, affords a glimpse into the age of an animal and how much life it had experienced before it was cut short by poachers” the trust said in a statement.

Poaching, human-wildlife conflict and habitat destruction have taken a toll on African elephants. The organisation explained how in October 2014, it rescued a starving 10-month-old infant named Roi, whose mother had been killed by a poison tipped spear in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. The fragile baby elephant was flown to Nairobi National Park where she was kept in orphanage and given specialist care.

“[Roi] she has thrived among our Keeper-orphan herd. But, ultimately, it is her mother that should be raising her; to teach her what plants are safe to eat, elephant society and how to behave.”

Among one of the pyres that will be going up in flames is likely to be a tusk belonging to Roi’s mother, the organization said. The ivory destruction will be the largest ever in the world.

“Such a colossal amount of ivory being destroyed, seven times larger than any other such ivory destruction, is important as it cannot be ignored by the global media. This is a statement to the world that Kenya’s elephants are?#?WorthMoreAlive? and its elephants are not there for the taking.”

“The pyres are a reminder of the damage humans can do, while their destruction will be symbolic of how humans can also be the difference in saving the living kin of those fallen elephants reflected in the flames.”