United Voice needed to save elephants and rhinos says UK Environment Minister

Richard Benyon, UK Minister for Natural Environment & Fisheries meets with KWS
Friday, February 22, 2013

Amboseli, Kenya – African countries need to have a single voice to save elephants and rhinos from extinction. This is the message from Richard Benyon, UK Minister for Natural Environment & Fisheries, who was meeting with frontline Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers during his first visit to Amboseli National Park.

“I wanted to talk to people who are dealing with the poaching issue on the ground rather than from Whitehall. The problem of poaching is a global problem with high level international criminality and we want to make sure that everyone understands that. These rangers and officers are heros and heroines as they face off with poachers in addition to handling and managing sensitive challenges such as constricting wildlife habitats, conflict with wildlife, community partnerships and livelihoods amongst others.

“I hope that there will be a unified voice at the upcoming CITES meeting on key issues like ivory and rhino horn, and that even countries such as the UK which don’t naturally host these magnificent animals are playing our part in supporting the work of organisations such as the Kenya Wildlife Service and their partnership with important charities like IFAW,” said Benyon.

The minister was accompanied to Amboseli by Patrick Omondi, KWS Senior Assistant Director & Head of Species Coordination and Management, James Isiche, Regional Director, IFAW E.A and Robbie Marsland, Country Director, IFAW U.K.

Omondi commented that poaching levels are pushing elephants and rhinos to the brink of extinction. “Presently, Kenya is allocating over 80% of our resources on anti-poaching and security operations which is not sustainable in the long-term. That is why we are proposing a total ban on ivory trade so that we can allocate the limited resources for other pressing areas such as winning space for wildlife, working with communities, management oriented-research and educational outreach programmes” said Omondi.

Speaking during the visit, Isiche said that elephant protection and conservation needs concerted efforts and an all-rounded approach for them to survive into the future.  

“Poaching and ivory trafficking has reached catastrophic levels and need urgent action to stem it now. As we focus on ending poaching, there is also need to pay attention to the rapidly diminishing elephant habitats across Africa, else we will have elephants and no place for them to roam and thrive. IFAW employs a holistic approach towards elephant conservation by providing necessary equipment and training for anti-poaching operations, securing critical habitats and working towards demand reduction of ivory in the end markets, said Isiche.

KWS and IFAW are working in partnership with local communities in Amboseli to protect elephants from poachers as well as secure their habitat.

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.

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia