Ethiopia burns ivory to discourage poaching

Government sets fire to six tons of ivory in Addis Ababa

The Ethiopian government set fire to a giant stockpile of confiscated ivory in Addis Ababa on 21 March, in a bid to discourage poaching and the ivory trade. Officials destroyed over six tons of illegal elephant tusks, ivory trinkets, carvings and jewellery amid increasing efforts in Africa and Asia to clamp down on the illicit trade which is fuelled predominantly by demand from China.

The ivory was confiscated from various sources over the last 20 years, according to the Ethiopian Wildlife and Conservation Authority, whose members oversaw the burning.

The contraband was seized in collaboration with local police and Interpol, and most of the ivory was on its way out of Ethiopia when its smugglers were apprehended, many of them Chinese nationals attempting to depart from Bole international airport in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia has become the second African country to destroy its ivory stockpile this year after Kenya burnt 15 tons of seized ivory in early March, while in February China imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports.

Figures released last year by the London-based organisation Save The Elephants revealed that 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa between 2010 and 2012.

Ethiopia's elephant population fell from more than 15,000 in the 1970s to its current number of about 1,900 elephants, according to Ethiopia's wildlife authority, which says the poaching threat persists.