By Peter Wanyonyi
If the news is to be believed, we are fast running out of wild animals to gawk at. The number of elephants being butchered daily is so high. Conservationists say that we might soon be back to the 1980s levels of rampant ivory smuggling and decimated herds.
It gets worse, because once poachers are done with the poor elephants, they will swiftly turn their guns to already perilously close to extinction rhinos. Before we know it, they will be finishing lions and so on and so forth. All this is done just to feed Asia’s voracious appetite for animal trinkets and trophies.
This is all so sad, obviously, but it is clear that — in Kenya at least — we are fighting a losing battle. Rampant corruption has so infused the public and private sectors with ineptitude and incompetence that it is virtually impossible to root out the problem from within Kenya.
A few half-hearted attempts have been made to sensitise the Chinese and their fellow Asians against buying ivory. From nice-looking “hands off our elephants” campaigns and walks to animated cartoon strips. But no one really takes these seriously, save for the rather misguided left-wing environmental movements. You cannot stop a 5,000-year-old Chinese obsession with ivory by staging a walk in some bush in Africa.
Maybe we should embrace the fate of our animals. After all, Tanzania and South Africa and Congo — not to mention Nigeria and Namibia — have far more elephants than they need. If the big beasts disappear from Kenya, it will not be the end of the world. Throw in buffalo and those pesky lions — whose absence will allow our Morans to finally rear their cows in peace — and what we have is less an extinction of animals. And again, what that means is that we will have more idle game park land for farming. After all, you can’t eat lions.