First Lady: Elephants are about our lives, economy, security (Kenya)


Nicholas Sewe, Kiambu County News

Date Published

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Tuesday reaffirmed her commitment towards the protection of elephants in Kenya.

She also underlined the need to harmonise and bring together all conservation efforts so that the various initiatives can have the desired effect.

The First Lady spoke when she hosted officials of the Nature Conservancy and the Elephant Neighbours Centre at State House, Nairobi.

The Nature Conservancy team included Regional Managing Director for Africa David Banks and the Director for Field Programs, Africa Region, Charles Lukania Oluchina.

Members of the Elephant Neighbours Centre were led by elephant research scientist and globally renowned activist against poaching and trade in ivory Jim Nyamu.

The First Lady said a video featuring her explaining about elephant protection and the importance of wildlife- human co-existence had created strong awareness across the world.

The video, said to represent the ‘voice of Africa’, was beamed during the world conservation conference in Beijing, China last December and continues to create awareness and elicit support across the world.

Titled ‘First Lady’s Ivory Awareness’, Margaret Kenyatta speaks from her heart saying that ‘elephants are about our lives, the economy and national security’, a message again emphasized by President Uhuru Kenyatta two weeks ago when he torched over 106 tonnes of elephants tusks and rhino horns confiscated from poachers and merchants.

Through the video message, the First Lady rubber-stamped reduced domestic use of ivory in Asia and her message has now become a rallying call across the world.

The First Lady also emphasises that the current generation is obligated to safeguard the well-being of the charismatic species (elephants) for the future.

“The video continues to provide a voice globally on why we should protect our elephants”, said the First Lady.

The video subsequently went viral in many Asian countries that provide the largest market for ivory poached from Africa.

Through social media, the video has been shared across the world including the United States where it has elicited popular support towards the protection of the African elephants.

Mr Banks said the Nature Conservancy operates in over 35 countries in Africa with its headquarters in Kenya. It operates several conservancies in Northern Kenya, the Maasai Mara region and the north coast.

He said the Global Conservancy’s Kenyan programme is growing very fast where it works to benefit communities in marginalized areas.

Mr Nyamu who has so far covered 5260 kilometres walking across the world, including 560 miles between Boston and Washington DC (US) to create conservation awareness announced he is preparing for another grueling 3200 km walk across East Africa scheduled for next month for the same conservation efforts.

He said he was happy President Kenyatta has already made a strong statement about the protection of elephants and hopes to meet leaders from the other East African countries to make similar statements.

Nyamu was also hopeful that his conservation efforts will be embraced across the region to create a “citizen ranger community”, rather than it being the effort of a few activists.

Both Banks and Nyamu thanked the First Lady for her commitment in conservation efforts.