In Tanzania, the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism has stood firm with the Ministry’s decision to keep its stockpile of ivory for scientific research. Several conservation groups urged the government to burn the ivory as neighboring countries have done in the past.
The estimated 15,000 elephants of Tanzania span a range that crosses the borders of Malawi and Kenya. The Ministry hopes that by studying the 118 tons of seized illegal ivory, researchers can uncover evidence of evolutionary history and genetic nuances between the animals. A deeper understanding of the population should help create the most effective conservation and management plans for the future. The $230 million collection will remain guarded throughout the process.
One elephant conservation group stated that the money required to protect the collection is a wasted opportunity to fund direct conservation efforts. Yet again, an anti-hunting group misunderstands how the majority of conservation funding is raised.
Kenya started the idea of burning ivory in 1989. The first burn made a global message that helped spark changes in policy on the ivory trade. The latest burn in April 2016 was the largest one in history, but poaching still continues to be a serious issue today.
Although rates have decreased since the surge in 2013, no ivory burns or global campaigns have truly curbed poaching yet. The profits poachers make on the illegal market continues to be enough motivation.
Dedicating the stockpile to research is a positive use of the unfortunate circumstance.
Sources: BBC News and The East African