Galaxy of global stars troop in to burn ivory on Saturday

A Kenya Wildlife Service officer stands near a burning pile of 15 tonnes of elephant ivory seized in Kenya at Nairobi National Park on March 3, 2015. Kenya is set to set ablaze 105 tonnes of ivory and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horns on April 30, 2016 at a ceremony to be attended by a galaxy of world leaders and stars. PHOTO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Delegates to meet in Nanyuki today for two-day summit on protection of African elephants before trooping to Nairobi on Saturday to witness the burning of recovered horns.

  • Participants will meet in Nanyuki for the Giants Club Summit to discuss protection of Africa’s remaining elephants.
  • An advance list of participants obtained from the summit organisers has political leaders, entrepreneurs, conservationists and diplomats from around the world.

World leaders, philanthropists and conservationists are expected to arrive in Nairobi starting Thursday to witness the destruction of Kenya’s largest stockpile of ivory and rhino horn.

The Saturday event where 105 tonnes of ivory and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn will be set ablaze, will be another firm statement against poaching, which threats to wipe out the remaining elephants and rhinos in the Kenyan wild.

But before then, the participants will meet in Nanyuki for the Giants Club Summit — a meeting of heads of state, business moguls and wildlife conservationists to discuss protection of Africa’s remaining elephants.

Founded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and leaders from Botswana, Gabon and Uganda with support from Mr Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian-born businessman who owns the British newspapers The Independent and the London Evening Standard, the club explores ways of deterring wildlife trafficking.

WORLD DIPLOMATS

An advance list of participants obtained from the summit organisers has political leaders, entrepreneurs, conservationists and diplomats from around the world.

About 170 delegates are expected from Kenya and the rest of Africa, the US, Europe, China, New Zealand and Russia.

Among the delegates at the two events will be the United Nations Development Programme administrator Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand who has been nominated by her country to succeed Mr Ban Ki-Moon as the next UN secretary-general at the turn of the year.

A statement by the UNDP said her visit will emphasise the importance of conservation and the role played by UN agencies to support countries in conservation.

In her commentary in The Independent, Ms Clark talks of poaching as an “abhorrent” practice that robs us of a common heritage and derails achievement of sustainable development goals.

Other UN dignitaries expected in Nairobi include Mr Ibrahim Thiaw, deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Jorge Rios, the head of the UN office on drugs and crime’s wildlife and forest crime programme.

US President Barack Obama will be represented by deputy secretary of State Heather Higginbottom, as well as William C Woody, chief of the US fish and wildlife service’s office of law enforcement.

“Her (Ms Higginbottom) visit underscores the US government’s support for Kenyan and continent-wide efforts to combat wildlife trafficking,” said Mr Mark Toner, deputy spokesman for the US Department of State in a statement on Tuesday.

“In addition, she will meet with government officials and others to discuss sustainable development, the protection of refugees and wildlife conservation and trafficking.”

Mr Yue Lei, senior vice-president of Chinese financial conglomerate San Power Group, will lead a delegation of Chinese entrepreneurs to the event.

China has for a long time been accused of being a major market for trafficked ivory but Beijing says it supports efforts to combat poaching.

The company’s website says it is cooperating with a foundation by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, to champion the protection of endangered wildlife.

NO TALKING SHOP

The Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu said in a statement that the gathering will help to spread awareness on the dangers of poaching.

“This is not another talking shop,” she said. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to show the world that we know how to stop poaching, and for the world to stand alongside us and help us to make it happen.”

The two events have also attracted representatives from the financial and conservation world, including Kenyan entrepreneur and philanthropist Manu Chandaria; Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group who will attend via video link; Jody Allen, president of the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, Max Graham, the chief executive of Space for Giants, the conservation charity; Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; and former chairman of sportswear firm Puma, Jochen Zeitz.

Musicians Eric Wainaina from Kenya, and Mrishi Mpioto and Peter Msechu from Tanzania have been invited to entertain guests. 

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