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First lady leads anti-poaching walk

26 June 2013, 18:30 Wangui Joseph

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Tuesday supported a campaign against illegal ivory trade in Kenya launched by wildlife conservationists and Kenya wildlife Services (KWS).

In a rare show of solidarity in the fight, Kenyatta walked with the conservation groups and students from Mt Kenya school for more than three kilometers waving a banner and chanting anti poaching slogans.

The first lady urged Asia, Europe and American continents to cease engaging in ivory trade in Kenya, saying that the illegal business has contributed to high demand for ivory and has enhanced poaching activities in the country.

Margaret who led the campaign dabbed ‘Ivory belongs to elephants’ in Nyeri town said that every Kenyan should take a personal initiative of eradicating the illegal trade.

“I am very pleased today to be part of this campaign that is geared towards conserving our wildlife for the future generation of this nation,” She said.

She addressed students of Mt Kenya Academy where she urged them to join the fight against poaching.

“As children of this nation, you can join this fight against poaching by writing letters, songs or even poems and addressing them to your local administration or even to the President,” said the first Lady.

She urged Kenyan leaders to create awareness to the community on the consequences of poaching and the importance of conserving the  wildlife.

Margaret was accompanied by Prof. Judy Wakhungu who is the Cabinet Secretary for environment, water and natural resources where she planted a tree at the school to boost conservation efforts.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) director William Kiprono said that they are looking for adequate space to accommodate more wildlife in the country, saying that human beings have occupied wildlife habitat by constructing their homes.

“Kenyans have extensively bought land and have squeezed these animals so much. They have invaded wildlife habitats and displaced them,” said Kiprono.

The director who accompanied the first lady said that KWS is striving so hard to eliminate challenges of poaching, human-wildlife conflict, climate change and the shrinking wildlife habitat.

Kiprono expressed optimism that the new wildlife bill will help in the fight against poaching due to stiff penalties proposed and urged Kenyatta to prevail upon the president so that the bill sails through.

He further observed that KWS has lost more than 50 rangers to poachers while protecting wildlife and urged the government to remember the families who lost their beloved ones in their line of duty.

“I want to warn poachers in this country that I am ready to fall with the very last animal and let them know that I will not relent,” warned Kiprono.

Wildlife Direct manager Prof. Paula Kahungu said that Africa lost more than 30 000 elephants to poachers last year and expressed her fears that if the trend continues in the next ten years, elephants will be extinct in this continent.

“I spent eight years in the forest conducting research on elephants; I am sorry to say that 30 000 elephants were fiercely gunned down by poachers in Africa. It’s the a time we joined hands as a nation to fight poaching,” said the scientist.

Jim Nyamu, who is leading the ‘Ivory belongs to elephants’ campaign began his 1000 kilometer conservation walk on February this year, said that he has been cautioning taxi, matatu and boda boda operators to be wary not to be part of this trade as they ferry commuters and their goods.    

The group was led by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in a 2-kilometer walk from Mt Kenya Academy to King’ong’o trading centre in a bid to create awareness to the public against illegal ivory trade. 

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