By Lori Bergemann
Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Tuesday backed efforts by the country’s conservationists to save elephants, urging people across Africa to stop ivory trade to save the wildlife. Kenyatta also joined other wildlife conservationists in the ivory walk aimed at sensitizing Kenyans and the world to save elephants and other endangered species from extinction.
Speaking at Mount Kenya Academy in Nyeri before embarking on the walk, the First Lady blamed the continued poaching of elephants in Kenya and Africa on countries of the world and individuals who provide ready markets for Ivory.
“I want to appeal to buyers of ivory to consider ending the trade on tusks in order to discourage poaching and save elephants from distinction,” Kenyatta said in central Kenya.
Wildlife conservationists said rising demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia has caused a poaching crisis in recent years across Kenya in particular and Africa as a whole with over 1,000 rhinos having been killed on the continent in the last 18 months.
The poaching menace has brought renewed attention to a crisis that has persisted for decades—the steady decline of Africa’s wildlife due to growing human populations and poverty that has put agricultural communities at odds with wildlife for resources. Conflict between land for wildlife and land for farmers and pastoralists in Kenya has also reached crisis level with rampant killing of lions and elephants among other types of important wildlife.