Tonnes of ivory seized in Singapore in 2002 is set to be burnt by Kenya Wildlife Authorities. The move has followed years of protest and campaigning by various conservation groups. The burning ceremony has been named the Lusaka Agreement and is set to take place n the 20 July. The consignment includes a large number of tusks and over 40 000 hankos which were destined for Japan. Hankos are seals or signature stamps used with red ink or cinnabar paste. They are used in Japan, China and Korea. It has been estimated that 300 elephants were culled for the production of these seals.
The co-operation between countries in reaching an agreement to burn the ivory is a significant achievement for the wildlife Authorities. Different countries have varying views on ivory trade – for example Zambia and Tanzania are of the opinion that controlled ivory trade could be beneficial for conservation with profits being invested in wildlife projects. Kenya is opposed to this idea as it believes that a move like this would encourage poaching. Some conservationists agree with the views expressed by Tanzania and Zambia and have expressed the opinion that burning the ivory would be a waste. One thing is clear and that is the burning of ivory will undoubtedly send a clear message to poachers and the syndicates who control the illegal trafficking of ivory.
Many of the tusks will be sent to countries like Malawi and Zambia for education, research and prosecution.
The only way to stop the trafficking of ivory is to convince the end buyer to stop buying it and perhaps the controversial burning of stockpiles will increase global awareness of elephant conservation.