BBC

Kenyan ivory burnt by President Uhuru Kenyatta

A Kenya Wildlife Service security officer stands near a burning pile of 15 tonnes of elephant ivory seized in Kenya at Nairobi National Park  - 3 March 2015.President Kenyatta promised that the entire country’s ivory stockpile would be burned this year

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has set fire to 15 tonnes of elephant ivory as part of the East African nation’s efforts to curb poaching.

The ivory, with a black market value of $30m (£19.4m), is the largest consignment to be destroyed in Kenya.

“Many of these tusks belonged to elephants which were wantonly slaughtered by criminals,” he said at the ceremony in Nairobi National Park.

Elephant ivory is often smuggled to Asia for use in ornaments.

Ivory tusks in a pile waiting to be burned in Kenya - 3 March 2015The tusks came from many hundreds of elephants
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger pours petrol on 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers ahead of burning it - 3 March 2015On the black market, 1kg of ivory is worth about $2,000

Rhinos are also poached for their horns for use in traditional medicine.

Conservationists have warned that elephants could be wiped out in some parts of Africa in the next few years.

‘Beyond economic use’

“Twenty-five years after the historic banning of the ivory trade, demand from the emerging markets once again threatens Africa’s elephants and rhinos,” President Kenyatta said.

On frontline with Kenya’s anti-poaching force

The burning of the ivory was to show that wildlife trophies must be put “beyond economic use”, he said.

“We want future generations of Kenyans, Africans and indeed the entire world to experience the majesty and beauty of these magnificent animals.

“Poachers and their enablers will not have the last word in Kenya.”

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) looks on as a pile of ivory is set alightPresident Kenyatta (R) said Kenya was serious about saving elephants for future generations
A Kenyan wildlife ranger puts a tusk on to a burning pile of 15 tonnes of elephant ivory seized in Kenya at Nairobi National Park  - 3 March 2015Kenya is home to an estimated 30,000 elephants

Mr Kenyatta promised that his government would destroy the country’s entire stockpile of ivory – thought to be another 115 tonnes – by the end of the year.

“We are committed to combating the menace robustly and persistently until we dismantle the entire vile economy,” the president said, adding that Interpol’s new regional office on environmental crime in Kenya was a significant boost in the battle.

Last month, China imposed a one-year ban on the import of ivory, amid criticism that demand from its consumers was fuelling poaching in Africa.