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World urged to impose moratorium on ivory trading to save wildlife

06 September 2013, 10:52

Nairobi - First lady Margaret Kenyatta on Thursday called on the international community to place a moratorium on ivory trading in order to save the elephant from extinction.

The First Lady has launched an anti-poaching campaign dubbed "Hands off our Elephants," whose main objective is to educate Kenyans and the world on the need to conserve the elephant for posterity also called on the world to help Nairobi save her elephants.

"To address the problem of poaching there requires global action and we ask our friends especially those where ivory is in demand and where domestic ivory markets exist to help us," she said at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi.

Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012. Lion is also one of the most endangered animals not only in Kenya but across Africa, according to statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Margaret, who also adopted a baby elephant, said poaching was not only a conservation problem but also affects Kenya's economic stability, prosperity and security.

She stressed that elephants are also a major tourist attraction to Kenya, saying the government earns revenues totaling to 1.34 billion U. S. dollars annually.

Ivory trade a threat to tourism

Ivory trade threatened over 300,000 jobs in the country with millions of other direct and indirect beneficiaries from tourism being affected, according to the first lady.

Margaret said there is need for the global community especially countries where demand and markets for ivory exist to take a frontline position in the war against poaching and ivory trade.

Protecting Kenya's 38,000 elephant herd is both an ecological and economic imperative. Kenya has been identified as one of the leading transit routes for smuggling ivory out of Africa, with several incidents of ivory seizures and recovery of wildlife carcasses in recent days.

The KWS estimates that more than eight tonnes of raw and worked ivory have been seized since 2009. The demand for ivory in the Far East has attracted criminal cartels to Kenya, who are feeding the insatiable demand.

Margaret said the campaign was important because elephants are a major attraction to international and domestic tourism noting that the world would be unimaginable without elephants.

"Elephants are a major attraction for international and domestic tourists. Protecting elephants requires large amounts of space, which means many other species benefit," she said.

Margaret said the campaign has received overwhelming support from the media and other stakeholders and expressed hope that it would succeed in eradicating poaching not only in Kenya and Africa at large. 

- Xinhua

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