Bonfire of the Vanities

More Headline Than Content 

What’s the message ?
Near Ol Molog, Tanzania. Hunting is still legal in the land of “Hakuna Matata”
Near Ol Molog, Tanzania. Hunting is still legal in the land of “Hakuna Matata”

At the ivory burn activists and politicians were loud and clear – we’re burning ivory to protect the elephants. The message is that ivory should not have any intrinsic value other than on the elephant. 
The message itself however remains unclear to Kenyans and foreigners alike. 

Yet Kenyans I spoke with didn’t see the point of burning ivory. To them ivory is a valuable resource, elephants are considered pests to many farmers. For westerners elephant are glorified pets, for Kenyans they can be pests.  Elephant often raid maize fields, lion and hippo can attack people while performing basic chores, like washing laundry.

And wouldn’t destroying 100 tons of ivory serve to increase the value of remaining stockpiles? 

If conservationists and law enforcement continue to target the foot soldiers of the illegal ivory trade – the poachers – and not the kingpins in Hong Kong and mainland China hoarding the contraband, then conservation would seem a farce. 

If nothing else the event was a chance for some to wear their Wellington boots. Eles and Wellies. 

Chinese-built standard guave railway-in come cheap electronics and weapons, out go Africa’s natural resources

Bonus advertising for the French oil and gas company

Kenya’s President Moi lights an ivory tower at the first burn in 1988. In his left hand he holds an ivory rungu, traditional Maasai club.

Categories: Conflict In Context - Field NotesTags: , , ,

Margot Kiser | Conflict in Context

I am a Kenya-based American correspondent, focusing on conflict in East Africa. I have contributed to Newsweek, Al Jazeera, The Daily Beast, among others.

Follow me on Twitter: @margotkiser1

Best long read ByLiner 2011 for my Newsweek feature, 'Pirates in Paradise' http://byliner.com/margot-kiser/stories
http://www.newsweek.com/authors/margot-kiser

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