Kenya Seeks a Total Ban and Destruction of Ivory

Kenya used the recent 17th meeting of conference of parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa, to propose the destruction of ivory stockpiles and total global ban on ivory. Kenya has submitted 14 proposals covering wide range of wild species, including the African elephant, African Pangolins, species of snakes endemic to the country, the thresher Sharks, species of chameleons, plant species and others on measures to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.

The Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Prof. Judi Wakhungu noted that the elephant population in Africa is under threat, and it is critical for parties to CITES to adopt its proposals to have a total ban on the ivory trade. Five of the proposals submitted are complimentary proposals on African elephants submitted together with a group of 27 African countries under the framework of the African Elephant Coalition calling for decisive action to ban trade in elephants and elephant ivory to save the species from imminent extinction.

Namibia and Zimbabwe have petitioned CITES to exempt their elephants from the ivory trade ban on grounds that their populations are thriving. The two argue that proceeds from legal stocks of ivory would generate income to improve conservation and anti-poaching efforts. The two nations note that a controlled marketing system will allow governments to raise funds to combat illicit poaching.


The government of Swaziland has also been vocal on this issue, calling the ban a failed policy. In a recent document to CITES, they termed the destruction of ivory and rhino horns as “extravagantly wasteful destruction” and accused western NGOs of compromising Africa’s wildlife by blocking the legalization of the ivory and rhino horn trade.

Uncertain by some of the principles and proposals to legalize the sale of ivory, Kenya’s Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu, recently convened a two-day retreat for the national CITES Technical committee to review and develop the country’s position on all items set for discussion at the ongoing conference.

The committee brought together experts from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy and representatives of Conservation Alliance of Kenya, an umbrella body bringing together more than 50 NGOs.

In April this year, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to 105 tons of ivory, 1.35 tons of rhino horn, and other illicit wildlife goods.  The stockpile was valued at $172 Million, the world’s largest stock of illegal ivory and rhino horn to be destroyed.

Maurice Oniang'o
Maurice Oniang'o is a versatile award-winning Kenyan Journalist. He has produced for highly rated Television programs such as Project Green, an incisive environmental show and Tazama, a half-hour documentary series, which were broadcast on Kenya Television Network (KTN). He has a keen interest in stories about environment, corruption, technology, security, health, education, human rights and governance. He has won various awards including: Environmental Reporter TV- AJEA, Thomson Foundation Young Journalist of the Year (FPA), among others. He is a Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Fellow (Financial Journalism), Africa Uncensored Investigate 101 Fellow and a member of Journalists for Transparency (J4T), a collective of journalist and storytellers that seek to explore issues of transparency and corruption around the globe. Maurice is currently a Freelance Documentary Filmmaker and Writer based in Nairobi, Kenya.