Gabon burns five tonnes of ivory

Gabonese President Ali Bongo on Wednesday set fire to five tonnes of ivory worth millions of euros
Gabonese President Ali Bongo on Wednesday set fire to five tonnes of ivory worth millions of euros to mark his government's commitment to battling poachers and saving elephants.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo on Wednesday set fire to five tonnes of ivory worth millions of euros to mark his government's commitment to battling poachers and saving elephants.

The pyre that was kindled in the capital Libreville represented the west African nation's entire government stockpile and would have required the killing of some 850 elephants.

"Gabon has a policy of zero tolerance for wildlife crime and we are putting in place the institutions and laws to ensure this policy is enforced," Bongo said.

"We don't want our children to inherit an empty forest. For that reason, we cannot allow this trafficking to continue," he said.

The spectacular burning of tusks and carvings at Cite de la Democratie, a vast complex for hosting state functions, was welcomed by at a time when elephant poaching in is reaching record levels.

The stock destroyed Wednesday amounted to 4,825 kilograms, including 1,293 pieces of rough ivory mainly composed of tusks and 17,730 pieces of worked ivory, according to the WWF nature protection organisation.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo on Wednesday set fire to five tonnes of ivory worth millions of euros
Gabonese President Ali Bongo on Wednesday set fire to five tonnes of ivory worth millions of euros to mark his government's commitment to battling poachers and saving elephants.

"We believe this is a strong signal of intent by Gabon against poaching and -- at a time of intense poaching pressure in central Africa, where the illegal killing of elephants for ivory is at record levels," the WWF said.

Some of the ivory burnt on Wednesday was up to a decade-old but most of it was seized from over the past five years, said Lee White, who heads the Agency (ANPN).

"If we're not careful, one day we'll end up having to go to zoos abroad to see animals that are originally from here," he said.

There are an estimated 30,000 elephants in Gabon.

"This is an international problem and Gabon is coming under siege by of hunters and crime syndicates that smuggle ivory to Asia," White said.

"Unless there is a strong international reaction to stop , and ivory smuggling in particular, the forests of Gabon will no longer vibrate with the rumble of the forest elephant."

WWF's Carlos Drews told AFP that one of the reasons for burning the stockpile was to prevent any of the confiscated ivory from leaking onto the illegal market.

"So we destroy it the same as we destroy cocaine in Latin America," he said.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo (C) gets ready to set fire to five tons of ivory worth around 10 million euros
Gabonese President Ali Bongo (C) gets ready to set fire to five tons of ivory worth around 10 million euros to mark his government's commitment to battling poachers and saving elephants.

According to the ANPN, the total value of the ivory that went up in flames Wednesday is Libreville is around 7.5 million euros, or close to $10 million.

Ali Bongo called for tougher action to put the squeeze on the Asian market, where elephant tusks are carved into ornaments and fetch around $2,000 a kilo.

"The moment demand disappears, so will the offer. It is vital we all apply pressure on these countries so that they understand how dangerous what is happening now is for our countries," he said.

Rhinoceros horns are even more sought after in Asia, where they are believed to hold medicinal properties that can cure ailments, including cancer, despite ample scientific evidence to the contrary.

A report issued last week by the UN body that regulates the international wildlife trade -- the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) -- said 2011 was the worst year on record for elephant poaching in Africa.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of are being killed across Africa each year.

In southern Africa, ivory trafficking is run by that are armed and well-equipped. Some poachers use helicopters to hunt their prey.

The World Wildlife Fund's Carlos Drews stressed that poaching and ivory trafficking should be understood as a serious crime with consequences reaching far beyond the fate of wildlife.

"This illegal ivory when it is sold is fueling rebel groups, civil wars in central Africa. It destabilises society. There are human lives involved, rangers are being killed," he said.


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(c) 2012 AFP

Citation: Gabon burns five tonnes of ivory (2012, June 27) retrieved 22 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-06-gabon-tonnes-ivory.html
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Jun 29, 2012
"The pyre that was kindled in the capital Libreville represented the west African nation's entire government stockpile and would have required the killing of some 850 elephants."
so in other words the poachers will now kill 850 more elephants that they would of to supply people with ivory. i think it would of been alot better for the government to sell them legally on the open market and then use the money for all the programs to stop poaching.

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