Smoke Signals

24 May 2016 | East Africa Travel |

In April 2016, for the 3rd time in history and on a scale never before seen, the Kenyan government made a bold statement in its fight against poaching by setting fire to a record amount – a whopping 105 tons – of rhino horn and elephant tusks that had been seized from poachers and from animals that had died from natural causes over the years.

With a street value in excess of US$30million, the message was clear: these animals are worth more alive.

The event was applauded the world over, and preceded by a summit in Laikipia organized by the Giants Club, a forum of leaders for combatting the elephant poaching crisis in Africa, where over $5m was pledged in immediate funding for conservation initiatives.

As Africa struggles to deal with the poaching endemic across the continent, the Kenya authorities hope this will be a turning point in the fight, and an illustration of their zero-tolerance for wildlife crimes.

Ivory pile and figures to burn

The burn included huge pyres of tusks, as well as ornamental objects and carvings made from ivory.


During the week leading up to the burn, Angama’s Nairobi office put down their phones, signed out of email and took the opportunity to witness the huge pyres of ivory first hand. The visual impact of such a scene cannot be underestimated, and the team was struck by the symbolism of the burn and the immensity of the stockpiles before them – equivalent to approximately 1/3rd of Kenya’s current elephant population.

It was both a privilege and eye-openingly sad to witness such stockpiles firsthand, and the team stood united against the illegal poaching of animals and trade in ivory. As Janice Koinato explained, “Kenya is sending a message that it will never benefit from illegal ivory capture from poachers or seized in transit. Poachers will not have the last word in Kenya.”

Our ultimate goal at Angama Mara is to reconnect guests with nature and enable them to fall in love with the world again. Our role is one of facilitation, and guests’ park fees are vital financial support for these organizations. We applaud the efforts of the Kenyan Government, the KWS, and our partners in the Mara Triangle, the Mara Conservancy, in their tireless fight against poaching – and protecting the beautiful creatures with whom we share this land.

As Christine Wairimu, our bookkeeper noted, “There is still hope for our elephants, our national treasure. We appreciate the awareness created and the spirit of conservancy!”

Angama team supporting the ivory burn

The Angama Nairobi team pose for a picture for  Angela Scott, renowned conservationist and photographer. Image courtesy Jonathan Scott.

AUTHOR: Steve Mitchell

Steve is CEO and Co-Founder of Angama. Responsible for the vitality of the business along with the stewardship of the Angama Foundation, he is besotted with African travel and is always on the lookout for more ways to delight our guests. When he’s not replying to emails, he’s probably somewhere along Kilifi Creek with his three lovely children.

May 24, 2016

A heartbreaking but important message. Thank you for reminding all of us to stay aware.

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