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Kenya will light $100 Million Ivory Bonfire to stop poaching

While you will likely see creative efforts like Rewrite Their Future, where a new Chinese character was sought, one that would remind/teach the public that Ivory isn't simply "Elephants teeth" but also certain death for the elephant, winning in Cannes soon - Kenya has created a bigger idea.

To stop the poaching, the Kenyan government will publicly burn a stockpile of Ivory, weighing more than 100 tons. The authorities have spent the past month assembling ivory from some 10,000 elephants into a dozen pyres. These captured tusks intended for trade have gathered dust for decades, but authorities will destroy them all in a spectacular message to poachers. Ivory is now worthless, when it's not on a live elephant.

Part funeral pyre, part massive PR stunt, burning this much Ivory at one time really brings home the scale of the poaching. While it's difficult to quantify casualties based on the intercepted Ivory, one can by looking at the piles better imagine all those missing elephants. If they were walking across the African savannah, trunk to tail, they’d stretch for more than 30 miles, according to National Geographic explorers-in-residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert.

The Kenyan stockpile is worth upwards of $100 million and South Africa is sitting on nearly $2 billion in rhino horn. But an elephant is worth more alive than dead, if a pair of tusks can bring $20,000, a live elephant brings in nearly $1.6 million over the course of its lifetime.

“Kenya’s elephants are worth more alive,” said Rob Brandford, the UK Director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. “People talk about the value of the ivory to be destroyed, however it’s true value is only to the elephant from which it was taken.”

The scale of this burn will be impossible for international press to ignore, it has to get media attention in markets where Ivory is a hot trade, such as China. Consumers there might not know that an elephant has to die for them to get their tusks, but an Ivory Funeral pyre brings this message home loud and clear in every language.

Very creative, Kenya. And very bold. The people who made this stunt possible should all get a raise and a cold beer.

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