By Maureen Murimi
A team of conservationists have kicked off a phase III of the Elephants and Rhino Anti-poaching campaign across the country.
The awareness campaign dubbed ‘Ivory Belongs to Elephants’ is schools and tertiary institutions in areas around National Parks, game reserves, animal sanctuaries and areas synonymous with human-wildlife all over the country.
The team led by Jim Justus Nyamu of the Elephants Neighbours Centre (ENC), an anti poaching organization has embarked on a massive programme to educate the local communities against engaging in the vice that now attracts huge penalties.
Speaking to journalists at the Nyahururu KWS station before he embarked on the walk, Jim Nyamu said the walk that begun last year in Nairobi has seen them walk for over 4,000 km.
He said the objective of the walk is to raise awareness against poaching of endangered species among the elephants and rhinos.
He noted that the number of live elephants stands at 26,400 elephants and the number was decreasing by day owing to rampant poaching.
Nyamu noted that if stringent measures are not put into place the number could drastically reduce and hence the need to create awareness and educate the local communities on the dangers of poaching and also educate them on the contents of the Wildlife Act 2014 as regards penalties and compensation.
He observed that elephant-human conflict remains a major challenge in Laikipia County among other regions adding that concerted efforts were necessary to sensitize residents on the importance of protecting the animals as a national resource with huge benefits if well taken care of.
The wildlife conservationist who has walked hundreds of miles both in the country and in the USA for the last two years said that lack of proper information on the need to protect the endangered species among the youths was a major challenge since the youths were being used to exacerbate poaching.
Nyahururu Senior Game Warden Wellington Gathungu encouraged residents to embrace peaceful co-existence with the animals.
He noted that the region was face with a myriad of challenges among them illegal logging and charcoal burning within Marmanet forests, saying this poses a threat to the animals due to interference of their habitat.
He said poaching was also on the rise and called on the members of the public to team up with the KWS to mitigate the challenges.