But fast-forward 24 years, and anti-poaching crushes - sparked by Kenya's burns and performed on an industrial scale in the U.S. - have fanned across the globe. This year, several countries have stepped up for pachyderms:
Despite these actions, the outlook for elephants remains grim. Over the past three years, poachers claimed 100,000 African elephants, including famed tuskers Satao and Mountain Bull.
At last year's U.S. crush, National Geographic's Bryan Christy, who admits that it's easy to become jaded covering elephant poaching, wrote: "I began to hear things I hadn't heard before." Among calls for a ban on domestic trade of ivory, and Judy Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, announcing a million-dollar bounty on a prominent Laotian wildlife trafficker, Christy watched an actress throw away her mother's World-War-II-era ivory bracelet.
"This is a thing," she said, holding the bracelet. "This is not life." She added her family heirloom to the pyre of ivory to be destroyed.
And here's what Dan Ashe, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote almost exactly a year later: "we've begun to change the global conversation about ivory – and its perception as a status symbol. More and more people across the world are coming to see ivory products for what they really are – emblems of avarice and callous indifference to suffering."