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Kenya to burn tons of confiscated ivory, rhino horn

By By Hou Liqiang in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2016-03-31 23:30

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will lead the burning of 105 metric tons (231,485 pounds) of seized ivory and 1.3 tons of rhino horn on April 30, and dignitaries from all over the world will attend the event at the Nairobi National Park, the government announced.

Judi Wakhungu, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities, made the announcement on Wednesday at a press conference at the burning site. Last year, Kenya burned 15 tons of ivory at the site.

Destroying the ivory and rhino horn will not end their illegal trade, but it demonstrates Kenya's commitment to seeking a global ban on the trading of ivory and rhino horn, said Wakhungu.

"As a government, we are attaching great significance to this state event and the president looks forward to hosting his peers and other dignitaries from all over the world who will come to express solidarity with our conservation efforts," she said.

Wakhungu said efforts by Kenya's government to save elephants and rhinos from poaching have yielded good results.

"In 2014, 164 elephants were poached in the country, which was significantly reduced to 96 in 2015. In 2014, 35 rhinos were illegally killed compared to 11 in 2015,'' she noted.

Wakhungu also announced the start as of Wednesday of a 21- day amnesty for the surrender of any wildlife trophies that are held without a permit issued by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Those who turn in jewelry or trinkets made from ivory or rhino horn to the director general of the service will not be punished, she said.

The wildlife service said that 64.12 kilograms of ivory was seized on Tuesday at the cargo area of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. It was concealed in gunny bags wrapped in nylon and put in buckets. The wildlife service has launched an investigation to determine the source, owners, destination and recipients.

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