Kenya fights to keep ivory ban that saved herds

Not only elephants die in the ivory wars. Peter Ndiritu, a Kenyan wildlife ranger, saw a colleague shot dead last July by poachers armed with AK-47 assault rifles. "The bandits thought they were surrounded. He died on the spot," said Mr Ndiritu. Another colleague of his was in hospital last week after being charged at by abuffalo.

Kenyans are deadly serious about protecting their wildlife. They are fiercely resisting plans to undo the ivory ban that saved their elephants from decimation just over a decade ago. The country's African neighbours are proposing, at the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) meeting that opens in Nairobi today, to sell their lucrative ivory stockpiles.

The two-week conference, attended by 150 countries, will debate the hunting of rare wildlife, from the African elephant and the minke whale to the Malagasy poison frog. All are threatened in some way by international trade.

Cites banned the ivory trade in 1989 but eight years later permitted three African countries - Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana - to sell 60 tons to Japan. This year the same countries want to open the market up further and will be joined by South Africa, which wants to sell 30 tons of ivory worth $2.7m (£1.7m). They argue that the controlled sale of legal ivory, from elephants that die naturally or through necessary culling, brings in valuable revenue for wildlife research and conservation.

But Kenya and India say any ivory sales always create a market poachers and greedy middlemen are only too happy to service. And while the South Africans can afford to patrol their parks to keep out the poachers, the Kenyans - who rely heavily on elephants to attract tourists - cannot.

Mr Ndiritu is one of just 200 rangers who patrol Tsavo National Park, which covers an area the size of Switzerland. Before the 1989 ban, Tsavo's porous 600km perimeter was akin to the door of an ivory supermarket for poachers. The elephant population in the park plummeted from 45,000 to 6,000 in the previous 20 years; in the same period Kenya lost 110,000 of its 130,000 elephants.

Tsavo is now home to a growing herd of 8,000. Naftali Kio, the park's director, says lifting the ban would be disastrous."The level of poaching here is determined by the market elsewhere," he said. Kenyan poaching appears to have been given fresh impetus by the sales to Japan. Last year the Kenya Wildlife Service recovered 1,900kg of illegal ivory compared with the 3,000kg in the previous eight years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003