First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Friday at State House, Nairobi, held discussions with conservation groups on new ways of protecting wildlife in the country.
The conservationists briefed the First Lady on new initiatives they have put in place to promote the conservation of wildlife especially by sensitizing the Kenyan youth over the value of wild animals.
Africa’s best known conservationists Jim Nyamu, who is the Executive Director of “Elephant Neighbours Centre-Kenya” and ecologist Dr Paula Kahumbu, the CEO of “Wildlife Direct” and the brainchild of the “Hands Off our Elephants”, led their respective teams during the meeting with the First Lady.
The First Lady is the patron of the “Hands Off Our Elephants” initiative, a broad based wildlife conservation campaign that targets to curb poaching in Kenya.
The ‘Hands off our Elephants’ campaign is widely recognized for its successes in advocacy and the engagement of the people of Kenya to support the protection of elephants
Mr Nyamu has so far walked a gruelling 17,305 km across Africa and America in his efforts to sensitize the world on the need to conserve elephants .
He is currently planning another walk from Nairobi to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea in his efforts to draw global attention to the protection of African jumbos.
The Eastern Africa region is home to some 90,000 elephants whose numbers keep dwindling as poachers kill them for their tusks. South Africa has the largest concentration of elephants in Africa, whose population stands at 280,000 animals.
The conservationists said they had identified a gap at the policy level, where awareness and advocacy has not been given appropriate attention especially to communities living in wildlife catchment areas.
Dr Kahumbu revealed an ambitious initiative by her organization where, in collaboration with the Ministries of Education and that of Tourism and Wildlife, she has developed educational materials for pupils and teachers for use in schools.
The renown ecologist made a two minute promo presentation on wildlife from which she is preparing a series of episodes to showcase Kenya’s wildlife. She has already prepared 10 episodes of the “Wildlife Warriors Republic” TV series which will be launched next year.
The conservationists said local communities and especially the youth were the best custodians of wildlife, hence the need for continued sensitization of host communities.
“We need to build a strong constituency of Kenyans who support the protection of our wildlife,” said Peter Karanja from the Elephant Neighbours Centre.
Dr Kahumbu said a survey conducted by her organization had revealed that 67 percent of people in Kenya’s rural areas support wildlife conservation.
“We need a strong population of people committed to wildlife conservation,” she said.
Dr Kahumbu said the initiative in schools has great potential and likely to create the greatest impact in wildlife conservation.
Dr Erastus Kanga represented the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife during the function.
Separately, the First Lady held discussions with the CEO of Roddenberry Foundation, Ms Heidi Bianca . The two met during the 2018 London Conference in October on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) where the First Lady represented President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Roddenbery Foundation supports conservation efforts, environment and climate change.
The First Lady presented a video clip of Beyond Zero work to the visitors adding that plans to put up the Shs 2 billion Beyond Zero specialist Mother and Baby Referral Beyond Zero hospital is still on course.