Don’t get me wrong, I hope some great good for conservation comes out of the burn this time. From a global perspective, perhaps the spectacular publicity can in fact matter in the future and in the big picture Kenya is a small place and fodder for the larger good. That’s really beyond my scope in this blog.
For understanding the event as it relates to Kenya and elephants and conservation and government in Kenya, please read Owaahh: The Politics of Ivory and Fire.
Gathara’s World: Burning Ivory, Burying Elephants: How the Government of Kenya Harms the Conservation Cause.
Floods in Nairobi–at least 14 drowned or killed in rain related accidents–with major roads and suburban byways impassable, a six story building collapsing overnight and an unravelling banking system; celebrities, conservationists and assorted VIPs can feel all warm and fuzzy as $100 million in Ivory goes up in flames. Assuming the roads are not too flooded everyone can enjoy Saturday night in high end restaurants , hob nob with the rich and famous and fly away feeling much better for having interrupted busy lives to visit “Africa” in order to save endangered wildlife from extinction. Meanwhile the unrelenting assault on Nairobi National Park will continue and the corruption that aids and abets poaching as well as all manner of criminal activities will simply be fought by words rather than actions.
Certainly an example of what I call “the Nairobi Curse” writ large–there is no question that the urban extravaganza has a big cost to everyday Kenyans and their environment, and certainly a big carbon footprint. Whether it could help change the behavior of people like a Western diplomat I once knew who went on an ivory buying spree in Sudan, I don’t know. Probably not, but I always want to maintain openness to a silver lining to politics in Kenya.