By; Oyunga Pala
I saw Facebook post of a worn out sole of a sports shoe. The page belonged to outstanding wildlife activist, Jim Justus Nyamu. The post read, “This particular pair of shoe covered 900km or so and now in the store out of race”.
Ever since he started walking to raise awareness 2 years ago, Jim Nyamu has covered over 3000 miles educating the masses on the crisis of Elephant poaching for ivory.
He has walked from Boston to Washington D.C highlighting illegal ivory consumption in America. He rallied the authorities and even got the First lady Margaret Kenyatta to join him on a walk.
He trekked from Mombasa to Nairobi. Masai Mara to Nairobi and onwards to Isiolo. Nyamu carries a simple message. Ivory belongs to elephants. He also voices some very important concerns.
In 1979, Kenya had 167,000 elephants. 10 years later they were down to 16,000. It took the establishment of Kenya Wildlife service to bring back elephants from brink of extinction.
By 2013, the population had risen to 30 000 elephants. Poaching is getting relentless.
We tend to think of extinction as something that happens in the past and subject only to archaeological inquiry. Extinction is a continuous and ongoing process. I dug up some facts from International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List to share some context.
Ecosystems are endangered
The Yangtze River Dolphin was last sighted in 2006. Not a single has been seen in China since. The Caribbean monk seal was declared extinct in 2008.
The Western black rhino extinct in 2011. 2000 lions are left in the Kenyan plains. The Grevy Zebra, found only in Kenya and Ethiopia hover around that range.
About 700 cheetahs remain. Further afield. There are about 40 Amur leopards left in wild Russia. Javan Rhinocerous have dwindled down to under 60. There are fewer than 700 Mountain gorillas remaining.
The hartebeest, the wildebeest handsome cousin, is down to 300.The Victoria tilapia is in the critical list. Ecosystems are endangered and water towers are under threat. While, we cannot all be eco warriors, we can pay attention to bold and lone voice such Jim Nyamu’s. Salute him as he walks by.
Honour him when he graces your presence. Celebrate a true Kenyan hero. Keep on walking.