Hollywood celebrities, global activists and heads of state are set to gather for an anti-poaching summit in Kenya later this year, Kenyan officials announced this week. More than 120 tons of ivory are to be torched during the April event in a display intended to express the East African country’s opposition to the illegal ivory trade, a spokesman for the president told local reporters.
Among those expected to attend are actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman, musician Elton John, financier George Soros, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Chinese former basketball player Yao Ming, Agence France-Presse reported. Several heads of states are also expected to attend, according to Kenyan officials.
Anti-poaching campaigns have grown in Africa as hunting increasingly threatens the survival of a number of African animal species. Ivory from elephants is often smuggled to China and used for jewelry and other decorations. Tusks are also used in ornaments elsewhere in Asia, including in the Middle East. Ivory is often a symbol of one's wealth. The Kenyan stockpile set to be burned later this year could be worth as much as $270 million on the market.
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) January 29, 2016
Some 30,000 elephants are estimated to be killed each year for their tusks. Kenya now is believed to have an elephant population of about 45,000, according to its wildlife service. That is down precipitously from about 167,000 in the 1970s, EcoWatch reported.
The trade of ivory has been banned since 1989, but a black market continues. Stringent laws in Kenya have reportedly had some effect, and the country is at the forefront in the fight against poaching. President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to some 16 tons of elephant tusks at the Nairobi National Park in March.
“We want future generations of Kenyans, Africans and indeed the entire world to experience the majesty and beauty of these magnificent animals,” Kenyatta said.