By Greg Jones
Gabon is [sic\ burned its government-held stockpile of ivory today to mark the country's commitment to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
President Ali Bongo ignited the ivory pyre in the Cite de Democratie at a time of intense poaching pressure in central Africa, where record levels of elephant killings have been documented in the last year.
"Gabon has a policy of zero tolerance for wildlife crime and we are putting in place the institutions and laws to ensure this policy is enforced," said Bongo.
Gabon has become the first country in central Africa to publicly destroy its ivory in an act that is intended to send a strong signal to poachers that the nation is committed to tackling the illegal wildlife trade.
The confiscated stock totals 4,825 kilograms, including 1,293 piece of rough ivory mainly composed of tusks and 17,730 pieces of worked ivory, an overall quantity that would correspond to around 850 elephants.
It is hoped that burning the stockpiles will remove any temptation to sell government ivory on the black market. "If not managed properly, ivory stockpiles in the hands of government suddenly 'get legs' and move into illegal trade," said Tom Milliken, ivory trade expert at wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.
Traffic says Mozambique lost more than a tonne of ivory in this way in February, while Zambia lost three tonnes from the government's strong room last week. More....