By Farouk Mwabege
Poachers might wipe out all elephants in Kenya in the next 10 years, a lobby group has warned.
The Elephant Neighbours Centre (ENC) says four are killed every day by those involved in the ivory trade.
The conservation group’s executive director, Mr Jim Nyamu, said Kenya had lost more than 10,000 elephants in the past three years.
The country currently has 26,400 elephants compared to 167,000 in 1979, Mr Nyamu said during a ceremony to flag off a conservation walk in Kwale.
He said 2011 was the best year for the country as it had 35,000 elephants, but since then the number had consistently decreased.
“This situation does not only affect us as Kenyans but also our neighbours in Tanzania,” he said.
“This message needs to be taken seriously and it is upon all of us to join hands in fighting the menace.”
Kwale County Commissioner Evans Achoki warned wildlife killers that the Wildlife Act outlines severe penalties for ivory traders. Convicts are either imprisoned for life or fined up to Sh20 million.
“Circumstances have now changed and if you are found guilty, you will have yourself to blame,” he said.
He urged everyone to make wildlife conservation a personal responsibility to protect Kenya’s heritage.
The commissioner called on students to be careful to avoid being used in trafficking ivory.
Mr Achoki said wild animals were an important national asset for tourism, reiterating that the industry was key to the country’s economy.
“Those who are endangering our animals are enemies of this country and we should not allow them to be part of us.”
The conservation walk will cover 375 kilometres from Kwale to Lamu through Mombasa, Kilifi and Tana River counties, which are all affected by poaching.