Kenya Elephant Walk Joins the Race to Save Elephants
In the race to save elephants Jim Nyamu is a champion, but over the next couple of weeks he’s taking it slowly in a high-profile march from Mombasa to Nairobi, Kenya to raise awareness of the threats that face Africa’s tuskers.
East Africa, and Kenya in particular has been identified as major source and trafficking route for poached ivory – with nearly 3,5 tonnes of ivory directly linked to Kenya reported seized in January 2013 alone, two tonnes of that in Mombasa port.
Additionally, Kenyans were shocked in early January when an entire family of 12 elephants were found poached and with their ivory hacked out in Tsavo East National National Park, thought to be one of the country’s most secure.
“Incidences of elephant poaching in Kenya are on the rise, and it is clear that the country is becoming a smuggling route of choice for traffickers,” said James Isiche, IFAW Eastern Africa Regional Director.
“That is why IFAW believes the efforts of Jim Nyamu make him a hero for elephants. The ‘Ivory Belongs to the Elephant’ campaign of the Elephant Neighbor’s Centre has him walking in the most extreme temperatures, and past Tsavo Parks that harbour the biggest elephant population in Kenya. Every step of the way and way beyond, Jim Nyamu will touch people and raise awareness among ordinary Kenyans of the need to protect elephants,” said Isiche.
“The threat to elephants should concern every single Kenyan. It is not just the responsibility of the authorities to catch the poachers and stop the smugglers; it is something that every member of the public can get involved in”.
East Africa’s reputation as a clearing house for illegal ivory is growing, adding to the spectre of the poaching heydays of 1970s and 1980s when elephant and rhino poaching reached their heights.
Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Limited availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs. IFAW believes an estimated 25,000 – 50,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in 2011.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org), a member of the Kenya Elephant Forum, has helped fund Nyamu’s efforts. Kenya Elephant Forum consists of scientists, ngos and the business community intent on creating awareness of elephant conservation and supporting the establishment of community-based elephant monitoring initiatives.
Nyamu left Mombasa on 09 February and is braving sweltering 33° C (93° F) temperatures, baking tarmac and the smelly back-draughts of the thousands of trucks that ply their way along Kenya’s major transport routes to and from the coastal port, ending in Nairobi on 23 February.
The walk precedes the CoP 16 of the Conference on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which will take place in Bangkok, Thailand from 3-14 March 2013.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.