Conspicuously absent on the ongoing raging uproar on poaching of Kenya’s elephants is first lady Margaret Kenyatta. Late last year, Mrs Kenyatta became, in what is now normal, the president’s positive propaganda peddler on poaching.
She was the face of ‘war on poaching’ and grandly played that role, leading a save-the-elephants walk (#HandsOffElephants) in Nyeri and feeding milk to abandoned baby elephants at the David Sheldrick’s conservancy.
That was then. That was 2013 when her husband was still struggling with massive international poor reputation issues owing to his post-election violence case at the ICC and the discoveries that he rigged his way in power. Conservation was just the kind of good news the president needed to shift attention from him and his illegitimate government, then.
The first lady, whose voice is critical on poaching because of her closeness to the top power of the country, has been uncritically quiet over the new wind of poaching that has hit the country’s parks and conservancies.
According the site mavulture.com, the President Uhuru’s family were among the top poachers of the 1970s when his father, old Jomo, now long deceased, was the president. Critics maintain Mrs Kenyatta II may have been told to ‘go slow’ over her public association with anti-poaching drives in the country.
According to KWS, between 1970s and 1980s Kenya lost over 80 per cent of her elephants, mainly due to intensive poaching of elephants for ivory.
At the same time, the country lost 21 rhinos and 117 elephants to poachers since the beginning of 2013. Out of these elephants, 37 were killed in protected areas while 80 were outside protected areas. 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.
Kenya has an estimated 1,800 lions, down from 2,800 in 2002. The country had 30,000 lions in the 1960s, KWS data reveals.