Ethiopia has destroyed a huge stockpile of ivory that was illegally poached in its effort to eradicate poaching. The six tons of carvings, jewelry and tusks were burned in Addis Ababa the country’s capital.
It is the second country in Africa, following Kenya, to burn a stockpile of ivory to discourage trading on the black market. Ethiopia has lost as much as 90% of its herd of elephants over the past 30 years. Conservationists praised the move.
Park and police officers poured gasoline over the ivory stockpile on a hill in a ceremony in the Botanic Garden of the capital. The ivory was set afire by Demeke Mekonnen the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mekonnen described this symbolic gesture an important stepping stone for implementing more stringent laws against poachers.
Authorities said that over the past five years, there have been 700 people arrested suspected of poaching and trafficking.
Conservationists said the poaching has become huge in the region of sub-Saharan Africa. Gangs are killing rhinos and elephants for their horns and tusks to feed a demand that is ever increasing across Asia.
An Interpol and UN report from last year estimated that close to 20,000 to 25,000 elephants were killed on the continent of Africa each year out of a population of close to 650,000.
Last month a ban of one year on importing ivory was imposed in China.
Ethiopia has close to 1,900 elephants in 9 sites that are designated African Wildlife Foundation zones, citing a government report.
Between the years 2011 and 2014, 42 elephants were killed with three other cases registered just since January of this year.
A member of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Group told an international news agency that 492 nationals from – West Africa, the Far East and Southwest Africa were put into prison or fined during the three years.
Last year, leaders of Gabon, Chad, Tanzania and Botswana pledged to honor a moratorium of 10 years on ivory sales.