In April, Kenya set ablaze the world's largest stockpile of ivory. The 105 tons of rhino horns and elephant tusks burned in Nairobi Wildlife Park for several days, filled the sky with soot and ash, and sent a stark message to poachers and traders the world over that Kenya, or at least President Uhuru Kenyatta, was serious about saving the country's endangered elephants. That was the intention at least.
Conservationists argue that destroying the illegal but highly-prized material encourages poaching: by decreasing supply, demand rises. But in spite of harsh laws, exorbitant fines, and even boots on the ground, Kenya has struggled to save its elephants, which scientists predict will disappear within a few decades if current levels of poaching persist. As a last ditch effort, Kenyatta is looking for help from some symbolism. "The height of the pile of ivory before us marks the strength of our resolve," he announced that day. "No one, and I repeat no one, has any business in trading in ivory, for this trade means death of our elephants and death of our natural heritage."