(ELEPHANTS/POACHING) At a ceremony Friday, Ethiopia burned a six-ton stockpile of ivory in an effort to curb poaching, making them the most recent in a growing list of countries to do so.

The ivory tusks and trinkets were confiscated over the course of 30 years from poachers in Ethiopia or in transit at Addis Aboba’s Bole International Airport.

The event took place in the country’s capital at the Gulele Botanical Garden, where a memorial will be built in remembrance of more than 550 lost African elephants.

Ethiopia today joined ten other governments that have destroyed all or part of their ivory stockpiles. Photograph by and courtesy of Zeleke Tigabe Abuhay/African Wildlife Foundation.
Ethiopia has joined 10 other governments in destroying all or part of their ivory stockpiles. Photo Credit: Zeleke Tigabe Abuhay/African Wildlife Foundation.

Eight herds of African elephants currently inhabit Ethiopia, which is an estimated 1,800 elephants in total.

Addis Aboba’s Bole International Airport is a well-known hot spot for the international ivory trade. Since the 1990s, the country has lost 90 percent of its elephant population to poaching.

The ivory burn and a new plan for increased enforcement to prevent ivory trafficking within the country could ease Ethiopia’s reputation of being a key component in the ivory trade.

Before setting the stockpile ablaze, Deputy Prime Minister Demoke Mekonnon Hassen made the following statement regarding the push to end the ivory trade:

“If we allow our elephants to be killed, not only will we betray our heritage, but we will impoverish ourselves and our future generations. This will not happen on our watch. Our message is simple- the ivory trade must stop.”

He also took the initiative of contacting the African countries of Botswanna, Chad, Gabon, and Tanzania, urging them to burn their ivory stockpiles and join the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) to “secure a future with elephants.”

A collaboration between African governments and non-governmental organizations, the EPI requires countries to sustain the global ban on the ivory trade, close domestic ivory markets, and destroy ivory stocks or remove them from the black market indefinitely.

Thankfully, Ethiopia is finally taking a stand for its elephants–a very necessary move after a heartbreaking 100,000 African elephants were slaughtered in just three years.

TAKE ACTION: Click here to see how you can help put an end to poaching.

— Sabrina Clinkenbeard, exclusive to Global Animal