More Headline Than Content
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.
Categories: Conflict In Context - Field Notes