The elephant population in 1970 was at 167, 000. The numbers stand at 26,400 elephants in Kenya today. Kenya loses one (1) elephant daily to poaching and over 365 elephants for its tusks (ivory) annually. If this trend continues the national elephant population may decline given that mortality rate was 4% compared to a growth rate of 2% in 2011. Over 80% of Kenya’s elephants are found outside protected areas and the rest in National Parks and Reserves. Poaching is an emerging challenge and if its not managed now, it will lead to decline of elephant numbers and negatively impact the economy (GDP).
According to African Elephant Specialist Group Elephant Database, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda has lost 82,577 between 2002 and 2013 from a population of 134,506.
Tanzania alone has lost 55,000 elephants during this period while Uganda and Kenya’s population increased, but not significantly. This is the most recent survey however, while 2014 and 2015 have been regarded as the most merciless of elephant carnage in all the country. The three countries have bore challenges due to their neighboring countries Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, that are enjoying the down listing of their elephant population from Appendix I to II giving them an opportunity to trade with live elephant and ivory. Neither of these countries are safe if they work alone due to the cross-border elephant movement, and thus they have to look into aspects of coming together politically, socially, and now identify an integrated wildlife poaching and mechanism action plan.
Elephant Neighbors’ Center (ENC) is a Non- profit Organization whose mission is to protect the African elephant and secure landscapes for elephants outside the protected areas. ENC places emphasis on a three-tier approach: integrating community knowledge, environment and livelihoods in resolving principal problems, and bias facing conservation in Kenya. Mr. Jim Justus Nyamu is the ENC co-founder with over 16 years of experience studying elephants in Kenya and Africa. Between 2012- 2015 Jim has walked over 5000 km in Kenya and in the USA raising awareness on elephant and Rhino poaching.
Rationale of the East Africa Walk:
East African countries; Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, have lost 82,577 of her elephants between 2002 thru 2013 from a population of 134,506. Tanzania alone has lost 55,000 elephants during this period while Uganda and Kenya’s population increased, but not significant according to the African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG). This is the most recent survey however 2014 and 2015 have been regarded as the most merciless and elephant carnage in all the country.
The three countries have bore challenges due to their neighboring countries Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, that are enjoying the down listing of their elephant population from Appendix I to II giving them an opportunity to trade with live elephants and ivory trade. The other homegrown challenge includes the absence of join and integration of policies and action despite the cross-border elephant conservation.
Neither of these countries are safe if they work alone due to the cross-border elephant movement, and thus they have to look into aspects of coming together politically, socially, and identify integrated wildlife poaching and mechanism action plan in the spirit of East Africa Corporation. It is in this spirit that I will lead the walk from Nairobi- Dar es Salaam- Kampala then Nairobi come March 2016: One of the objectives is to bring the three countries together in an attempt to establish an integrated wildlife poaching and traffic mechanism strategy. In the previous walks, we have been hiring a vehicle or at times get support from either the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) or other tour companies in transporting our camping and campaign equipment’s.
Past grass-root campaign walk carried 2013-2015:
The Ivory belongs to elephant walk campaign received enormous support from Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resource, KWS and International organizations such as IFAW, and WWF, among others who have walked with Jim separately. Jim has walked over 4000 km now and that includes 950 km in the USA (Boston to DC). In his campaigns he has walked and visited 326 Secondary’s School Primaries, colleges and over 350 community meetings in 29 counties. The campaign has also interacted with county Commissioners, Administration and Kenya police in different counties.
ENC has brought various organizations together and have achieved just to mention a few since the campaign started; Ivory Belongs to Elephants campaign among others lobbied the Kenyan government to improve the wildlife penalties from 1 year or a fine of Ksh 40,000 to life in prison or a fine of 20 million shillings, and is now enacted as a law. Ivory Belongs to Elephants walk gave birth to other campaigns such as Elephant for Kenya and Hands Off Our Elephants; represented Kenyans in the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s “International March in Washington DC” on October 4, 2013. The campaign with other lobbyist organizations that included the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust pressurized the USA government to crush the ivory confiscated in the USA and finally was crushed in Colorado, and Jim was invited to witness on November 14th 2013.
Raised awareness on the poaching through local, national, and International media, that includes Voice of America, Good morning America among others reaching to over 3 million peoples. This campaign walk has three objectives:
(1) Raise awareness on the elephants and Rhino poaching
(2) Engage local communities on how to participate in wildlife conservation programs
(3) Educate communities on the new wildlife Act enacted early this year.
East Africa Walk:
This noble walk begins from Nairobi Capital headed to Dar es Salaam with several stop over in centers such as Kajiado, Namaga, Arusha, Himo, Tanga and Dar Es Saalam . We intend to have several meetings with different stakeholders and media in Dar es Salaam and in Kampala. The walk then proceed to Morogoro, Dodoma, Moshi, Mwaza , Mbarara, Kampala, Entebe, Busia, Kisumu, Kakamega, Nakuru, Naivasha then Nairobi covering about 3200 in 120 days.
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