Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set ablaze fifteen tons of contraband ivory today as a symbol of Jubilee Government’s renewed commitment to fight poaching in the country.
To underline Kenya’s determination to eradicate poaching, President Kenyatta said the Government will burn the rest of the contraband ivory stockpile within the year.
The President commended Belgium, Chad, China, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Gabon, France, Philippines, and the USA which have over the past three years destroyed contraband elephant ivory and rhino horn.
He assured the international community of Kenya’s resolve to preserve humanity’s shared heritage in wildlife and to specifically save the elephant and the rhino for posterity.
“We want future generations of Kenyans, Africans and the entire world to experience the majesty and beauty of these magnificent beasts. Poachers and their enablers will not have the last word. We hope the rest of the world will follow our action in the same manner,” he added.
The historical event at the Nairobi National Park also witnessed by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta coincides with the World Wildlife Day and is the third by a Kenya Head of State. The event also commemorates the Wangari Maathai Day and Africa Environment Day.
The celebrations bring together Kenyans, the African Union, UN Agencies in Nairobi, International environmental organisations and Representatives of the Diplomatic to reflect on the splendid natural heritage and obligation to protect it for posterity.
President Kenyatta said the three-way commemoration represents the multilateral convergence and international consensus on environmental protection and conservation of biodiversity.
He assured that Kenya remains firmly at the forefront of all activities aimed at sustaining the momentum in the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Saying the Government has made significant progress in reducing wildlife poaching, President Kenyatta called for intensive investment and cooperation with all stakeholders to win the war on ivory trade.
“Twenty five years after the historic banning of ivory trade, new demand from emerging markets once again threatens Africa’s elephants and rhinos,” the President adds.
He expressed African countries’ concerns over the scale and rate of the new threat to the continent’s endangered wildlife species.
“Kenya has played a leading role in wildlife conservation and the fight against poaching. In 1989, Kenya led the international community in stopping the international ivory trade by symbolically burning its ivory stockpile,” the President said.
The 2015 theme is “Wildlife crime is serious; let’s get serious about wildlife crime”.
President Kenyatta said the Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day have additional significance as indicated by the theme as “we now recognize the vital role played by women in environmental management and sustainable utilization of natural resources”.
“The decision by the AU in 2012 to recognize the life and work of the late Prof. Wangari Maathai is an immense honour to her memory, and the people of Kenya,” he added.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources Judy Wakhungu assured that her ministry will continue working with all stakeholders in addressing environmental degradation and poaching challenges.
“Today is an opportunity to rededicate our efforts in protecting our environment not only for Kenya but for the whole world,” she affirmed.
The Ugandan High Commissioner to Kenya Ambassador Angeline Wapakhabulo on behalf of Dean of Diplomatic Corps said the late Wangari Maathai’s efforts to protect and conserve environment transcended all spheres of humanity.
Other Speakers included AU Commissioner for Rural Economy Tumusiine Rhoda, Mette Løyche Wilkie Director, Division of Environmental Policy Implementation at the UNEP and Wanjira Mathai, daughter of the late Wangari Mathai.