Tuesday, April 23, 2013

China’s media asked to back war on poaching

PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | FILE A file picture taken on August 23, 2010 shows a Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) ranger standing guard over an ivory haul seized overnight as it transited through Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi.

PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | FILE A file picture taken on August 23, 2010 shows a Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) ranger standing guard over an ivory haul seized overnight as it transited through Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi.  AFP

By NATION REPORTER AND NATION CORRESPONDENT

Kenya is reaching out to the Chinese media and travel agencies to help fight poaching and boost local tourism.

On Tuesday, Tourism ministry hosted Chinese journalists and tour operators to raise awareness about Kenya in China.

The journalists were urged to help educate the Chinese on the need to curb poaching.

Beautiful country

“We have a beautiful country with beautiful animals. But we have a problem with poaching and soon we won’t have these animals,” the ministry’s deputy secretary, Mr Patrick Gakure, told the reporters.

“We ask that when you go back, help to educate the public not to support poaching by buying illegal rhino horns or ivory,” he said.

The Kenya Wildlife Service says 278 elephants were killed last year by poachers, with China and other Far East countries believed to be major markets for illegal ivory and rhino horn.

The delegation promised to inform people at home. “We would love to make Kenya the Number One destination for Chinese tourists. We have a large population of 1.3 billion, and if just one per cent of this visit Kenya, that means very many people,” Mr Aaron Sze, the chairman of Glamorous-Kenya, a Chinese marketing and travel agency, said.

The Kenya Tourist Board says of the 1.8 million tourists that came to Kenya last year, only about 40,000 were Chinese.

Meanwhile, renowned conservationist Ian Craig has urged the government to invest in protecting wildlife.

He said Kenya must introduce stiff jail sentences to discourage commercial dealing in ivory and rhino horns.

Mr Craig, a founding patron of the 62,000-acre Lewa Conservancy, said: “The solutions rest solely in reducing the end value of horn and ivory.”

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