July 19, 2011

Kenya to Burn Tons of Ivory From Poached Elephants on July 20

LOS ALTOS, Calif., July 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) today announced that its Kenya-based elephant conservation partner, Save the Elephants (STE), endorses the decision by the Kenya Wildlife Service to publicly set fire to five tons of confiscated tusks and processed ivory, which were seized in Singapore in 2002. The July 20 action in Tsavo West National Park is directed toward engaging the cooperation of the nations of the world in fighting illicit trade in ivory.

"The ivory burning in Kenya this week is significant because it draws international attention to the alarming recent escalation in elephant poaching," said Charles Knowles, WCN Executive Director. "Our partner organization, Save the Elephants, is on the ground collaborating with the Kenya Wildlife Service and others to document and thwart the illicit killing of this magnificent, highly-intelligent species."

A report recently released by STE warns that poaching of elephants in the Samburu/Buffalo Springs region of Kenya has reached an all-time high. Evidence shows that the price of ivory has doubled in the last two years and that the demand coming from the Far East and China is what is driving this increase in poaching.

"In the first 6 months of this year rates of illegal elephant killing in our area have reached new record levels," said STE founder, Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a conservation pioneer whose early research helped to bring about the world ivory trade ban in 1989. "The Samburu region, where elephants were recovering from the excessive poaching of the 1970s and 1980s, had been a success story right up until 2008. However the new poaching spike, driven by new demand, is threatening one of Africa's most peaceful elephant populations, one with family groups who have grown trusting of humans."

The effects of poaching on the elephant population of Samburu National Reserve are severe. The number of mature males has consistently declined and mortality has impacted over half of the family units. STE's recent report shows that 14% of the social groups do not contain a breeding female over the age of 25 years and are comprised of multiple orphan calves. These social impacts are serious and are a grave concern for the long-term future of the population.

"There is a real battle on the ground, being fought by the rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service," said Douglas-Hamilton. "Yesterday KWS made an arrest of three men on the Isiolo road carrying nine pieces of ivory weighing 50 kilograms. But unfortunately, whenever an arrest is made, the sentence tends to be minimal and poachers are often back "in the bush" within 48 hours. Save the Elephants is uniting with KWS and the Northern Rangelands Trust to provide more resources on the ground to protect elephants and other wildlife. Anti-poaching units must now be deployed systematically, as the race for ivory is on."

About Wildlife Conservation Network

WCN (www.WildNet.org) is dedicated to protecting endangered species and preserving their natural habitats. Founded in 2002, WCN partners with independent, community-based conservationists around the world and provides them with the capital and tools they need to develop solutions for human-wildlife coexistence.

About Save the Elephants

STE (www.savetheelephants.org) aims to secure a future for elephants and sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live.


Kelly Wilson
Wildlife Conservation Network
Email: [email protected]

Amelia Swaggert
Ballantines PR
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE Wildlife Conservation Network