By Paula Kahumbu
I’m sitting in Court 6, Makadara court, waiting to hear the case of a Vietnamese traveller arrested in transit at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Nairobi on April 7 with 488 pieces of ivory. I arrived at 9am for the 10am case and the small clean white painted room that serves as a court is fully packed.
Throngs of people line up outside the court room. I squeeze through a crush at the door and find a spot where I can stand. Nicole is already here. She is a distinctive woman, oriental African features and extremely tall. I feel drab against this diva-like Vietnamese translator. I’m filled with pride for having found her to help us in this case. KWS had called me days earlier in desperation, the court was going to throw out the case against a Vietnamese ivory trafficker because they could not find a translator. Twitter came to the rescue, an appeal went viral and Nicole’s number was sent to me. She may be the only Vietnamese speaker in Nairobi! I tweet my gratitude to all who helped and promise that this criminal is going to jail.
Everything seems to be going our way lately. The government's highest advisory body, the National Social and Economic Council, deliberated on evidence and came up with clear resolutions to end the crisis facing elephants and rhino and committed to “using the full force of the law” on February 1. They said: “The council acknowledged that elephants and rhinos are Kenya’s national treasures and must be protected in their own right and also to secure economic potential of tourism in Vision 2030. The illegal killing of these and other species should be viewed and responded as an economic sabotage since this poses a grave threat to Kenya’s indigenous resources wherein the tourism sector is a major contributor to the country’s economy.”
Then reading from the same page, President Uhuru Kenyatta surprised Kenyans at his inauguration by stating: “My fellow Kenyans, poaching and the destruction of our environment has no future in this country. The responsibility to protect our environment belongs not just to the government, but to each and every one of us”.
At the opening of Parliament he went even further and said: “We are stewards of our environment, holding in trust this earth for future generations of Kenyans. We have a sacred duty to protect it, our wildlife and our landscape. That is why I will propose legislation to strengthen the protection of the environment.” More....