NAIROBI, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Thursday called for a collaborative approach among wildlife stakeholders in the fight against rampant poaching and illegal ivory trade.
Margaret, who spoke during a meeting with officials from conservation group Wildlife Direct in Nairobi, said the protection of elephants and rhinos among other endangered wildlife species require all players in the conservation sector to work together.
Campaigns like “Hands Off Our Elephants” bring together communities to conserve wildlife, Margaret said, according to a statement issued after the meeting. “The battle against poaching and illegal wildlife trophies trade cannot be won by any single entity.”
“Hands Off Our Elephants” is an anti-poaching campaign which was launched last year by the government and conservationists whose main objective is to educate Kenyans and the world on the need to conserve the elephant for posterity.
The wildlife stakeholders have also urged Kenyans to join hands in the campaign against poaching and conserve elephants as a national heritage.
Conservationists say rising demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia has caused a poaching crisis in recent years across Kenya in particular and Africa as a whole with over 1,000 rhinos having been killed on the continent in the last two years.
Margaret, who is the patron of the “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign, said she would be taking the awareness campaign to other First Ladies in Africa to add impetus to the initiative.
“I will talk to the First Ladies under the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) to seek their support on the campaign,” she said.
Wildlife Direct Executive Director Paula Kahumbu urged law courts to impose deterrent penalties on ivory traffickers and poachers.
She said ivory traffickers were the financiers of poachers who continued to decimate wildlife in Kenya and other parts of the continent, adding that poaching levels are still alarming and her organization was partnering with the government and other stakeholders in the campaign.
The poaching menace has brought renewed attention to a crisis that has persisted for decades – the steady decline of Africa’s wildlife due to growing human populations and poverty that has put agricultural communities at odds with wildlife for resources.
Kenyan conservationists have warned that poaching could eliminate elephants in the next 10 years unless measures are undertaken to curb this crisis.
The advocacy drive dubbed Hand off Our Elephants envisages at ending poaching by cracking down on crime through change in legislation, law enforcement, compliance, and the use of a public hotline.
Kenya is among countries in Africa where poaching is rampant, despite the vice having been outlawed in the country in 1977.