KUAPO is proud to have borne witness to a momentous occasion – a symbolic gesture by Kenya, the torching of 15 tonnes of ivory with the promise by our President to destroy the rest of the stockpile (estimated at over 100 tonnes) by the end of the year (2015). As KWS watches over the burning of this ivory over the next 4-5 days, we must all think about what we as individuals can do to end wildlife crime.
Many have wondered and pondered as to what effect the burning of ivory could possibly have on this vicious crime. Will it truly end poaching? Perhaps not directly but what we MUST all remember is that as long as there is ivory in stockpiles, there will be temptation, there will be theft and there will be corruption. The burning of this ivory into useless bits of shard puts the ivory beyond economic use and somewhere – somehow perhaps reconnects it to its original, rightful and ONLY owner – the elephant that lost its life.
It is also a beacon call to the world – challenging each of the consumer and supplier nations – to take a stance, to stem demand and supply – to save our elephants. It sends a clear message that for Kenya and Kenyans there is NO ivory trade. Many people have suggested that stockpiles should be sold and the revenue generated used to fight poaching and end demand by flooding the market. We tell you today – this market for ivory is not “floodable”. We cannot satiate the demand for ivory and if we feed the demand by selling stockpiles, we will hasten the extinction of our elephants. We have seen how an effective ban can rejuvenate our elephant populations, we have also seen what one-off sales can do to render this ban ineffective. There have been myriad economic arguments back and forth, each side refuting the others claims, but ultimately, there is also a moral argument – how can we as humans kill an entire sentient being for a trinket? How can we as humans allow this to happen on our watch?
Kenya has taken a bold step and said no – not on our watch! We urge the world around us to join us and SAY NO TO TRADE. As one of Kenya’s favourite sons, Jim Justus, often says – Ivory belongs to Elephants (ONLY). Today we challenge the consumer nations especially China and the Philippines to take as bold a step and ban all trade of ivory within their borders. There should be nothing legal about the ivory trade that has built itself up on the back of the slaughter of thousands of elephants.
We also ask each and everyone of you out there to do your bit – find a way to contribute, there are many! Grasp this moment in history to make a moment of your own…UNITE AGAINST POACHING!
By Salisha Chandra, KUAPO Founding Member