Five tons of ivory went up in flames in Gabon on Wednesday; it was officials' attempt to send a strong message to poachers.

Demand for Ivory in Asia has sparked a wave of rhinoceros and elephant killings across Central and West Africa in recent years, and Gabon officials hope to dissuade these poachers and protect local wildlife.

During a ceremony in the capital city of Libreville, President Ali Bongo discussed the decision to burn the ivory.

This gesture shows the government's commitment to work tirelessly in the fight against international ivory trafficking, he said, according to Reuters. It is also a strong signal, a warning to poachers, so that they should be aware that this illegal trade will no longer flourish in Gabon. From henceforth, there will be a zero tolerance for poaching.

The past two decades have seen the loss of almost 80 percent of Gabon's forest elephant population, according to environmentalists. But in recent years, the government has been increasingly proactive about hunting down poachers and seizing their stockpiles.