In light of this weekend’s burning of $105 million of ivory by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, DSC holds steadfast in its long-term opposition to the destruction of ivory as a means to combat poaching. The recent burning of confiscated ivory and rhino horn was the largest in history and was burned in an effort by the Kenyan government to call for the end of illegal wildlife trade.
DSC strongly disagrees with this tactic and contends that the destruction of ivory, as well as bans on hunting, are not an effective approach to end poaching.
DSC Executive Director Ben Carter said, “No one is disagreeing that poaching needs to stop, except the poachers, who by some estimates, profit to the tune of nearly $10 billion annually. But crushing or burning ivory is a fleeting gesture and has little positive effect for wildlife conservation.”
After Kenya banned legal hunting in 1977, the poaching of elephants escalated. With the loss of revenue generated from legal hunting and the absence of hunters and guides in the field to police poaching, tens of thousands of elephants fell for the price of their tusks. Kenyan elephant populations tumbled from an estimated 167,000 in 1973 to approximately 27,000 in 2013.
“The bottom line is that when managed hunting goes away, so do the animals,” said Carter. “The destruction of ivory will serve no purpose other than to increase the illegal market price. Kenya needs more and better game wardens, new technologies to help track the illegal trade of ivory, science-based management practices and global cooperation.”
DSC encourages the decision makers in Kenya and other countries plagued by illegal poaching to read the recently released briefing from the IUCN, which details the economic benefits of hunting tourism, both at the local community level as well as national and international levels. Once informed, policy makers will be armed with knowledge for policy making instead of rhetoric and emotions.