Killing elephants threatens Kenya's Economic Security
This scale of illegal ivory trade was demonstrated early this year when a gang of heavily armed poachers entered Tsavo National Park and slaughtered eleven elephants. This event, and others like it, constitutes an invasion and a threat not only to wildlife but people, territorial integrity and stability.
“Illegal wildlife trade has risen to alarming levels across eastern and southern Africa. Through the proposed Wildlife Bill, Kenya has a unique opportunity now, to strengthen its governance and poor law enforcement and stop this menace,” says Mr. Niall O’Connor, Regional Director for WWF’s Eastern & Southern Programme.
“It is time for us all to ‘Kill the Trade’ that destroys our tourism potential. A strong will is needed to clamp down on the cartels involved in the transport and sale of ivory, including punitive measures when perpetrators of the trade are apprehended,” he adds.
Elephants are being driven into a dangerous decline in Kenya due to poaching for their tusks, according to a report issued under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
It is estimated that tens of thousands of elephants are being killed each year for their tusks, which are in demand in Asia particularly China and Thailand. East Africa is identified in the report as the centre of illicit ivory transport to Asia, with an escalating number of illegal consignments exiting seaports there.
“Poaching of elephants is an economic crime because it jeopardizes the US$ 5 billion wildlife-based tourism contributes to the national GDP,” says Sam Weru, WWF Kenya Country Office Conservation Manager (source: World Bank, 2011).
“Moreover poaching kills people (highly skilled wildlife protection units) and increases national insecurity with the possibility of the sophisticated weapons used by poachers landing into wrong hands.” he adds.
According to Mr. Lamine Sebogo, WWF’s African Elephant Programme Manager, 2011 recorded the highest number of large-scale seizures of illegal ivory ever. Such seizures indicate the involvement of organized criminal networks, but very few cases have been followed up with proper investigations, arrests, prosecutions or the imposition of credible penalties.
The Ivory WalkWWF, Born Free Foundation, Elephant Neighbours (ENC) and other supporters have organised a campaign dubbed “Ivory belongs to the elephant”. Part of this campaign includes sponsoring ENC’s Jim Nyamu to walk from Mombasa to Nairobi to raise alarm over the illegal killing of elephants and to call upon the Kenya Government to stop cartels involved in the illegal trade of ivory to South-East Asia.
The walk started on 9th February 2013 and will ended Saturday 23rd February 2013 in Nairobi. The walk culminated with a public function at the Nairobi Arboretum to make an urgent call for Kenyans – citizens, private sector to policy-makers – to show there commitment to take practical action against this illegal trade and senseless killing of elephants and rhinos.