Kenya says its plan to burn 105 tons of ivory will protect elephants

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Kenya Says Its Plan to Burn 105 Tons of Ivory Will Protect Elephants

Kenyan wildlife officials plan to burn 105 tons of ivory at the end of April in a move they say will protect elephants. The ivory burning will be the largest ever by any country.

But critics have argued that destroying the tusks is a waste. Why not sell the stockpile that animals already died for and fund conservation with the proceeds instead?

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For one, there's been an international ban on the ivory trade since 1989, so Kenya would have to resort to selling its stockpile through corrupt markets.

See photos of the ivory:

16 PHOTOS
Kenya burns confiscated ivory
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Kenya says its plan to burn 105 tons of ivory will protect elephants
A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger stacks elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General Kitili Mbathi and Winnie Kiiru, Country director of Stop Ivory, stack an elephant tusk, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya??
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya?
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A contractor carries an elephant tusk, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya?
A contractor carries an elephant tusk, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A contractor carries elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger arranges elephant tusks inside a shipping container at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Contractors carry elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya?
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers carry elephant tusks at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers carry elephant tusks at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers guard elephant ivory at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Elephant tusks are loaded on a pick-up truck at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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The stockpile's worth an estimated $30 million, but Kenya might actually have a different goal in mind.
Kenya's economy relies heavily on tourism. In turn, live elephants are one of the most vital parts of the industry that gave the country more than $2 billion in 2014.

The massive burning to come could generate a lot of attention for the issue and convince people not to buy products made from ivory.

Currently, China represents the biggest market for ivory, where large-scale campaigns to educate citizens have been going on for years.

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A 2007 survey found that 70 percent of Chinese people didn't know elephants had to be killed to make the products. This type of PSA from Kenya could raise more awareness.

It still may not be enough though. A study published last year found a majority of people who buy ivory products say they'd support banning the sale. Yet, they still find a way to rationalize their own purchases.

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