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Kenya launches campaign against ivory trade

Reporter: Robert Nagila 丨 CCTV.com

09-26-2016 09:31 BJT

Kenyan delegates are gearing up for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora 2016. The country is set to push measures for the protection of elephants.

Recently, Kenya launched a high profile campaign against the ivory trade -- one in which China has been deeply involved as well.

A searing indictment of those who buy ivory? Well, that's the argument made by authorities in Kenya.

They torched more than 100 tonnes of seized ivory and rhino horn earlier this year. The message: that it has no real value.

It's part of a highly visible conservation campaign led by Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta

The Chinese government has played a crucial role - providing funding for anti-poaching efforts and taking steps to curb demand in China.

"When they stop and reduce their markets, it is a good thing because the incentive local Kenyans are enticed to the illegal trade won't exist any more and the moment it doesn't exist, the incentive dies and our heritage lives on," said Nathan Gatundu, Kenya Wildlife Service.

Kenya says there is no time to lose. This park, Tsavo south east of Nairobi - is one of the jewels in the crown of Kenya's tourism industry.

It hosts the country's largest elephant population but numbers reportedly dropped almost 12% between 2011 and the last census in 2014.

Kenya is not alone in pushing for a global ban at CITES 2016. It's in a coalition with 28 other African countries.

But with opposition from the likes of South Africa, Zimbabwe and the European Union, there's likely to be some tough haggling and maybe nothing agreed.

Some experts say the real answer is tougher policing and tougher punishment.

"We have to clamp down on the killing, get better reinforced to shut down criminal cartels involved in Ivory smuggling and making vast profits. We have to make it very clear, what the impacts are of buying ivory and on eco systems that depend on elephants," said Frank Pope, Chief Operations Officer, Save the Elephants.

Whether this bonfire saved a single elephant is not clear. Still, it definitely put the ivory trade into the global news. And Kenya is hoping to make more headlines at CITES.

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