CONSERVATIONISTS ISSUE A RED ALERT AS POACHING OF JUMBOS INTENSIFIES
Nairobi, July 26th…Conservationists in Kenya have issued a warning that poaching could exterminate elephants in the next 10 years unless measures are undertaken to stem this crisis.
Led by WildlifeDirect, a world life conservation charity organization, they now want the Government to respond to the crisis as a national disaster and work with all sectors to address it.
According to Dr Richard Leakey, former Director of KWS and the Founder of WildlifeDirect, there has never been such a level of killing as we are experiencing today, unless we do something now elephants will be gone from the wild within the next decade. Leakey is credited for bringing an end to poaching in 1989
“Today the situation is worse. Until the elephants are physically counted by an independent group we need to be very wary. We need to change things urgently and find creative solutions. Kenya’s wildlife belongs to the citizens of Kenya’s who must stand up to defend this heritage. I believe that partnerships with private sector are critical. We cannot afford any further delay and we have to be tough!” warned Dr Leakey.
WildlifeDirect has announced their partnership with Key stakeholders in Government, NGOs, Private Sector, local celebrities, community leaders, corporate organizations to mobilize the nation in a joint effort to save elephants.
The movement dubbed HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS calls for action by Kenyans of all walks of life to help. The campaign seeks to create awareness about the crisis, and demand for a massive surge in anti-poaching and investigations at ports to crack down on corruption and trafficking of ivory, followed by convictions that send criminals to jail for tens of years. The public can help by providing information through the use of a wildlife crime hotline.
Speaking during the Press briefing, Cabinet Secretary for Water, Environment and Natural Resources, Prof Judy Wakhungu, said the government is fully supportive of this initiative. She added that the new wildlife legislation will soon be presented to parliament for endorsement.
“We need the help of partners and we will also do our part. Under this new legislation, anyone found dealing in trophies of ivory or rhino horn will be liable to a fine of not less than one million shillings or imprisonment for a term of not less than five years or to both, while poachers will be liable to a fine of not less than three million shillings or imprisonment for a term not less than five years”, said Prof Wakhungu.
Kenya Airways CEO, Titus Naikuni, a key partner in the campaign noted that his airline will not allow delivery of poached goods across the borders and any staff found engaging in illegal activity will be dealt with.
Speaking for Vision 2030, Director General Mugo Kibati added that “Kenya has hardly begun to tap the economic potential of her wildlife tourism. We welcome this initiative as it will ensure that Kenyans realise the country’s economic aspirations. Tourism is key to the economic pillar of Vision 2030 and without wildlife, there will be no tourism. Losing elephants threatens the very stability of our country. ”
The demand for ivory in the Far East, particularly China, has attracted criminal cartels to Kenya who are feeding the insatiable demand for ivory in the Far East, especially China and Thailand. Conservationists warn that unless the demand is extinguished, poachers will wipe out Africa's elephants.
CEO Wildlife Direct Dr. Paula Kahumbu lauded the government for welcoming the initiative which brings Kenyans together to save the country’s heritage.
“Kenya traditionally has been at the frontline in combating elephant poaching but we have lost that ground in recent years. It is essential that we work together and restore our leadership position in the world to ensuring that we protect our endangered species, and a global heritage. While we crack down on wildlife crime in Kenya, we also need the help of governments of Africa, Thailand, China, and USA whom we are asking to ban the domestic markets of ivory as legal markets are a cover for laundering illegal ivory. We will also appeal to the hearts of anyone buying ivory in these countries as they are contributing to the slaughter of African elephants”.
The HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS campaign is a plea to every member of the public and all sectors of the economy to champion the campaign against elephant poaching. The First Lady, Mrs Margaret Kenyatta is the campaign patron. A similar effort has been announced by Hilary Clinton in USA who seek to coordinate actions of the US based conservation community around this crisis.
The situation facing Kenya is grave. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, (KWS) poaching is escalating out of control, the country lost 384 elephants to poachers in 2012 up from fewer than 50 just five years ago. For every matriarch killed several young will also have died. The country is also witnessing a surge in poaching by local communities who are using traditional methods including poison arrows, spears and traps. Tanzania with 70,000 elephants report that they are losing 10,000 elephants per year, and conservationists warn that these poachers will move to Kenya once Tanzania herds are depleted.
For more information, kindly contact: Vata Nganda, Senior strategist TBWA Kenya on 0736436157 or Email: email@example.com