NAIROBI, Kenya Friday underlined its strong opposition to any move to lift a ban on trading ivory ahead of a meeting on endangered species.
The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is due to meet on March 13 in Qatar.
A nine-year ban on ivory sales was agreed in 2007 under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species.
Kenya relies heavily on tourism to earn foreign exchange and many visitors come to the country to visit its numerous game parks, and see its animals, among them a 35,000-strong heavily protected elephant population.
“Tourism accounts for 21 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings and 12 percent of GDP. Tourism resources must, therefore, be guarded fiercely, hence Kenya’s relentless conservation efforts,” President Mwai Kibaki said.
“I appeal to all friends of Kenya to support this call to save the African elephant and rhino from extinction,” he added in a speech while commissioning an electric fence protecting Aberdare National Park in central Kenya.
Tanzania and Zambia, both with growing elephant populations, want to reclassify their populations, as a first step to resuming the trade.
Kenya is opposed to the ivory trade after losing a large number of its elephants to poaching in the 1980s.
Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa said 23 other countries supported Kenya’s stand on the ban on ivory trade.