Ethiopia burns massive stockpile of ivory signals zero tolerance on elephant poaching

The war on poaching continues as another African nation burned a giant stockpile of ivory.

Gulele Botanical Garden in Ethiopia was host to pyre of an estimated 6.1 tons of ivory, which was set ablaze on Friday.

Born Free Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to keeping animals in the wild, called it a “momentous day for Ethiopia.”

“The ivory burning today by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, together with conservation partners, is a landmark and vital step forward for wildlife conservation in Ethiopia,” Dr. Zelealem Tefera Ashenafi, the foundation’s Ethiopia representative, said in a statement. “Let’s hope it raises the momentum and seriousness of wildlife conservation in the country.”

Last year, Ethiopia signed onto the Elephant Protection Initiative, which included an agreement to suspend the international ivory trade for a minimum of 10 years – and thereafter – until African elephant populations are no longer threatened. (Chad, Botswana, Tanzania and Gabon are also signatories.)

Dawud Mome, director general of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Conservation Authority, told the Associated Press most of the ivory was being smuggled through Ethiopia to a third country over the last two decades and was seized by local police and Interpol.

“Poaching is increasingly becoming a major concern in our country,” he told AP.

According to African Wildlife Foundation, Ethiopia has lost 90 per cent of its elephants since the 1980s. Its  elephant population is pegged at around 1,800 and the country “remains a key trafficking and source hub for the illegal ivory trade,” the foundation says.

Zeleke Tigabe Abuhay/African Wildlife Foundation
Zeleke Tigabe Abuhay/African Wildlife Foundation

“Ethiopia has an important role to play in protecting its remaining elephants and disrupting the flow of ivory from Africa to other parts of the word,” Zeleke Tigabe Abuhay, AWF’s Simien Mountains landscape manager,  said in a statement. “With this ivory destruction and the development of an ivory action plan last year, the Ethiopian government is demonstrating that it is becoming a major player in combating the illegal wildlife trade.”

Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Minister agreed to get rid of stockpiles beyond economic use. Kenya did the same thing earlier this month, torching a massive pile of ivory.

“Born Free staff have witnessed ivory destruction in America, Kenya, Paris, and now Ethiopia, and with each of these actions ivory is permanently removed from the marketplace and elephant poachers and ivory profiteers are pushed into a new line of work,” Adam Roberts, chief executive officer of Born Free Foundation said in a statement. “We congratulate the Government of Ethiopia on this historic action.”

Photo Born Free Foundation/Facebook

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