Building Ivory Tusk Mound, April 25, Nairobi, Kenya, 2016
The destruction of seized ivory is a deterrence technique used by governments in countries where poaching is rife. In April 2016, the largest ivory burn in Africa’s history took place in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. The 11 pyres were comprised of 105 tonnes of elephant tusks and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horn estimated to be worth $100 million. Before the largest pile was burned, Burtynsky and collaborators took over 2,000 images, which they used to reconstruct a three-dimensional model. Between 2007 and 2014 the number of elephants in Africa dropped by 30 per cent; Today, there are around 352,000 elephants left in Africa. Burtynsky believes that our current high rate of extinction is one of the hallmarks of the Anthropocene. “I don’t think there’s any question that humans are at the core of these activities,” he says.