Five tonnes of illegal ivory have been set on fire in Kenya in a bid to discourage poaching which is on the rise across Africa.
President Mwai Kibaki lit the ivory pyre worth an estimated $16 million, only the third time such a burning has been carried out on the continent.
“We cannot afford to sit back and allow criminal networks to destroy our common future,” said Kibaki.
“Through the burning of contraband ivory, therefore, we are sending a clear message to poachers and illegal traders in wildlife about our collective resolve to fight this crime in our region and beyond.”
Most of the 335 tusks and 43,000 carvings were seized in Singapore in 2002 before being returned to Kenya for DNA testing which showed much of the ivory had been poached in Malawi and Zambia.
Much of the demand for ivory that fuels poaching comes from the Far East in general and China in particular.
Ian Douglas-Hamilton, founder of charity Save the Elephants, said: “We have to stop the buying if we want to stop the killing. I'm not totally pessimistic. I think the Chinese can be converted.”