DRC president Joseph Kabila torches ivory stockpile

Africa

The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, on Sunday set an ivory stockpile on fire to highlight the problem of poaching in the central African country.

The president also released five grey parrots and set a stockpile of pangolin scales on fire, in a ceremony at the Nsele Nature Park on the outskirts of Kinshasa.

“We wanted to discourage poachers and criminals,” said Cosma Wilungula, director general of the Congelese Institute for Nature Conservation.

“In the past 15 to 20 years I’ve lost more than 380 guards in clashes,” he said.

450,000 to 500,000 elephants are found in the continent of Africa. However, more than 30,000 are killed every year in Africa, mainly to satisfy demand for ivory in Asia, where tusks sell for around $1,000 (800 euros) a kilo (2.2 pounds).

DR Congo’s Virunga national park covering 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 miles) along a swathe of eastern DR Congo abutting the border with Uganda and Rwanda is also one of the world’s most important conservation sites.

It was established in 1925, and houses about a quarter of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.  Furthermore, it is located in DR Congo’s North Kivu province, where armed groups are fighting for control of territorial and natural resources, and poaching is a major threat.

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