Group fights to save the elephant

Sunday May 12 2013

PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA Chinese actress Li Bingbing at the Samburu game reserve during an official visit on May 8, 2013. Li Bingbing is a Unep goodwill ambassador and was in Kenya to highlight Africa’s poaching crisis.

PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA Chinese actress Li Bingbing at the Samburu game reserve during an official visit on May 8, 2013. Li Bingbing is a Unep goodwill ambassador and was in Kenya to highlight Africa’s poaching crisis. AFP

By GEORGE SAYAGIE [email protected]

Some 500 conservationists kicked off the second leg of the Elephants and Rhino Anti-poaching Walk at the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve over the weekend.

The awareness campaign dubbed ‘Ivory Belongs to Elephants’ is intended to cover 1,050 kilometres in areas with national parks, game reserves and animal sanctuaries all over the country before it ends in Nairobi.

The event was flagged off at Sekenani gate by Narok deputy governor, Everline Aruasa and preceded to Ngoswani and Narok town, before it proceeded to Mai Mahiu, Naivasha, Nyahururu, Rimuruti, Isiolo, Embu, Kirinyaga and Nairobi.

The walk, which is expected to take 30 days, is the second leg after the first one was held with people walking from Mombasa to Nairobi.

The event was organised by the Elephants Neighbours Centre and sponsored by World Wide Fund for nature, Sarova Hotels, Maniango Safaris and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The executive director of Elephant Neighbours centre, Mr Jim Nyamu, said they want to create awareness on the value of elephants by educating local communities on the dangers of poaching.

Mr Nyamu urged MPs to uphold the proposed Wildlife Bill.

“We want to create a platform where we educate people living around wildlife to see the importance of wild animals,” he said.

The conservationist noted that tourists visit the country to see animals like elephants but if the numbers dwindled, they would opt for other countries and the nation would lose on revenue.

“Maasai Mara risks losing its glory if the runaway poaching is not brought to an end,” he said.

Mr Patrick Wanjohi of Mountain Rock Camps said when the animal survival is threatened, business people in the industry are also threatened.

“We really support the conservation of wildlife and encourage locals to help in fighting the poaching menace,” said Mr Wanjohi.

Maasai Mara senior warden Stephen Minis, said it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure that poaching is brought to end because it was threatening revenue from the tourism sector.

“Poaching is being done in conservancies. The animals are safer in the parks because we have beefed up security,” said Mr Minis.

He also noted the animals were important resource that generates revenue to the locals’ people and used in the implementation of various projects in the region.

Siana Wildlife Trust chairman Sammy Nkoitoi said that poaching for elephant tusks in the Mara-Serengeti region in the recent past across the border was on the increase and said that there was need to take quick and decisive measures to curb the poaching that is geared towards reducing the animal population.