Category Archives: press releases

UN Security Council condemns devastation of natural heritage and notes that poaching and trafficking of wildlife are a factor that fuels the crisis in the Central African Republic

UN Security Council condemns devastation of natural heritage and notes that poaching and trafficking of wildlife are a factor that  fuels the crisis in the Central African Republic

October 11, 2013

Geneva, 11 October 2013 – The United Nations Security Council has condemned the devastation of natural heritage in the Central African Republic and noted that poaching and trafficking of wildlife were among the factors that fuel the crisis in that country in its Resolution 2121 (2013). With this Resolution, adopted at its 7042nd meeting on 10 October 2013, the UN Security Council has also reinforced and updated the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in that country, and called for a political resolution to the conflict.

In May 2013 CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon expressed grave concerns over the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic, after forest elephants were massacred in a World Heritage Site in the south-western corner of the country bordering Cameroon and the Congo.

Kenya Airways backs Anti-poaching Campaign


Kenya Airways backs Anti-poaching Campaign

NAIROBI JULY 24, 2013 – Kenya Airways has joined the ‘Hands Off Our Elephants’ campaign that aims at ending elephants poaching and ivory trafficking through Kenya, as well as eliminating demand for the commodity around the world.

The campaign, which is spearheaded by Kenya’s First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, has been put together by WildlifeDirect, a wildlife conservation charity, to create awareness, engagement and mobilization on the issue within Kenya, across Africa and around the world

Kenya Airways’ Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Titus Naikuni, said that conservation of elephants and other wildlife, is the responsibility of all Kenyan individuals, companies and government agencies.

“Elephants are part of our environment; therefore poaching them harms our country and national heritage. Mother Nature is very unforgiving when we change the balance in the environment. This is the reason we decided to get involved. As Kenya Airways, we do not condone poaching or delivery of poached ivory on our flights, and this message has been passed to our staff and passengers. Any of our staff found involved or abetting poaching will face the consequences,” Dr Naikuni added during a press briefing held in Nairobi.

Speaking during the briefing, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu, said that the government is stepping up anti-poaching efforts by deploying modern technology and modernization of the Kenya Wildlife Service; in addition to establishing a Canine Unit to detect movements of illegal ivory at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airports in Mombasa.

“The government has also directed that all poaching cases be prosecuted as economic crimes, and revised penalties to higher fines of over Ksh1 million and sentences of over 5 years. Once the new Wildlife Bill is enacted, these penalties and sentences will be enhanced to make them punitive and discourage poaching and ivory traffickers,” Prof Wakhungu added.

The director general of the Vision 2030 delivery board, Mugo Kibati, said that elephants are a major factor in the success of the tourism industry, which is one of the major sectors in the economic pillar of Kenya’s Vision 2030.

“In our Medium Term Plan, we have set out to grow tourist numbers from the current 2 million to 3 million by the year 2017. However, this will not happen if our elephants disappear,” Mr Kibati told the press briefing.

In recent days, there has been a surge in cases of poaching, posing a threat to elephants. According to statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service, elephant poaching has grown consistently over the last three during which 829 elephants were killed. Last year, Kenya lost 384 elephants to poachers compared to 278 in 2011 and 177 in 2010.

In addition to this, the country has been identified as one of the leading transit routes for smuggling ivory out of Africa, with several incidents of ivory seizures and recovery of wildlife carcasses in recent days. KWS estimates that more than eight tonnes of raw and worked ivory have been seized since 2009.

The demand for ivory in the Far East, particularly China, has attracted criminal cartels to Kenya, who are feeding the insatiable demand. Conservationists warn that unless the demand is extinguished, poachers will wipe out Africa’s elephants.

The CEO of Wildlife Direct, Dr Paula Kahumbu, lauded the government for welcoming the initiative which brings Kenyans together to save the country’s heritage.

“Kenya traditionally has been at the frontline in combating elephant poaching but we have lost that ground in recent years. It is essential that we work together and restore our leadership position in the world to ensuring that we protect our endangered species, and a global heritage. While we crack down on wildlife crime in Kenya, we also need the help of governments of Africa, Thailand, China and US whom we are asking to ban the domestic markets of ivory as legal markets are a cover for laundering illegal ivory. We will also appeal to the hearts of anyone buying ivory in these countries as they are contributing to the slaughter of African elephants,” Dr Kahumbu added.

In February, Kenya Airways signed a deal with Born Free Foundation, an international charity, to contribute towards anti-poaching campaigns and conservation of wildlife conservation in Africa, and partner to raise funds for such initiatives.

Campaign to save Kenya’s Elephants


WildlifeDirect Wins ‘Innovation in Conservation’ Award

WildlifeDirect Wins ‘Innovation in Conservation’ Award

Nairobi, 02 December 2009 – announced on Tuesday that WildlifeDirect is the winner of the Innovation in Conservation Award for 2009. According to Mongabay, “The prize, which includes a cash donation and prominent placement on the web site and newsletter for the month of December, is granted each year to an organization using an unconventional and highly effective approach to conserving forests and biodiversity.”

The Kenya-based conservation charity, WildlifeDirect, was recognized for its work of promoting and raising funds for conservation through blogs by rangers, scientists and community conservation groups in Africa, Asia and South America. “We’re thrilled to win Mongabay’s Innovation in Conservation Award,” said Paula Kahumbu, Executive Director of WildlifeDirect in a Mongabay article published by Mongabay’s founder Rhett A. Butler.

WildlifeDirect founder and Chairman, renowned anthropologist and conservationist, Dr Richard Leakey, was particularly happy about this award. “Recognition from Mongabay through the Innovation in Conservation award is very much appreciated during these difficult times. WildlifeDirect is doing exactly what it promised – helping field based conservationists to be able to stay at work and keep our endangered species safe even during difficult economic times.” he said., which aims to raise interest in wildlife and wildlands while promoting awareness of environmental issues has featured several articles originating from WildlifeDirect’s bloggers and continues to support WildlifeDirect in raising the profile of the blogs. is considered one of the leading conservation news sites in the Internet.

Previous winners of this prize include Health in Harmony from the Island of Borneo in 2008 and the Amazon Conservation Team of Brazil in 2007.

This prize comes at a time when WildlifeDirect is going through a tough financial period and struggling with continued optimum performance during these hard economic times. With the exposure afforded by the millions of readers, it is likely that WildlifeDirect will receive a fundraising boost that could bring the much needed funds for conservation work and for paying WildlifeDirect’s bills.

For the purpose of this release:
Rhett A Butler’s article on Mongabay is to be found here:

Dr Paula Kahumbu’s reaction to the prize is posted here:

Rhett A Butler of can be contacted on: [email protected]

Dr Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect is available for interviews. Email her: [email protected]

For general inquiries contact:
Samuel Maina [email protected]

Kenya’s Prime Minister Urged to Help Ban Carbofuran

Kenya’s Prime Minister Urged to Help Ban Carbofuran

Nairobi, 06 November 2009 – On Friday, 30 October 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would implement the agency’s May 2009 final rule revoking all tolerances, or residue limits, for the pesticide carbofuran. From 31 December 2009, therefore, any use of carbofuran in USA becomes a crime punishable with fines and jail sentences. Kenyan conservationists now want their government to follow suit and impose a total ban on carbofuran in the country.

Conservationists, led by the Nairobi-based NGO, WildlifeDirect, want the support of their Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who on Monday, 2 November 2009, adopted a lion under the Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS) Wildlife Endowment Fund. It is a rare conservation gesture coming from one so high in Kenya’s political pyramid.

WildlifeDirect and its partners have been calling for a total ban on carbofuran in Kenya for about two years and they now see hope in the Prime Minister’s small but important gesture of adopting a lion – a species imperiled by this lethal poison. “Mr Odinga should now lead parliament in realizing the ban on this number one lion-killer.” says Dr Paula Kahumbu, Executive Director of WildlifeDirect.

Carbofuran, known in Kenya by its brand name- Furadan, which is manufactured by the FMC Corporation of Philadelphia, USA and is solely distributed in Kenya (and the rest of East Africa) by Juanco Limited – is known to have killed at least 76 lions in 5 years. Carbofuran is also responsible for the deaths of more than 300 vultures, and truckloads of other birds and animals according to scientists and the KWS.

Reports of human death due to carbofuran poisoning have emerged. WildlifeDirect spoke on phone with the heartbroken father of a child who died of Furadan poisoning. The report of this death first appeared on Kenya’s The Standard newspaper on Friday, 30 October 2009 saying that on Monday, 26 October 2009, the child had mistakenly ingested Furadan and died.

The child’s father informed WildlifeDirect that the child died on arrival at the Cherangani Nursing Home in Trans Nzoia East District in western Kenya. The father had bought the pesticide four months ago for use in killing insects in the soil when preparing his vegetable nursery. He says that he was not aware how dangerous the product is and was not informed by the retailer about the first aid approach in case of pesticide ingestion. He gave his child milk and crushed eggs – a method of dealing with poisoning widely used in Africa – instead of water as the label says.

This confirms that this poison is critically dangerous for Africans even those with sufficient levels of education like the bereaved man who is a teacher at a local primary school. The lack of the clear and utterly off-putting universal symbol of death – the skull and crossbones – dupes end users of the pesticide into thinking that its poisoning effects are mild.

The damage that carbofuran has caused to wildlife, the environment and humans is not unique to Kenya. Of the EPA’s 3 year determination, Steve Owens, the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office said that “The evidence is clear that carbofuran does not meet today’s rigorous food-safety standards.”

“If the pesticide is not safe for use in the US or Europe, where pesticide users are more informed, why would we think that the pesticide is safe for use in Africa?” asks Dr Richard Leakey, Chairman of WildlifeDirect.

This pesticide was developed for largely literate and highly regulated developed countries. In Africa, where most farmers are uneducated and where the regulatory bodies are under-resourced, users are exposed to greater danger. The product is often repackaged in small, affordable but unmarked packets that have no user instructions. “It is immoral to sell a pesticide as dangerous as carbofuran in Africa” Dr Leakey adds.

It gets worse for Kenya which is a large exporter of coffee to the US. Dr Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy says, “The revocation of all food tolerances has international implications, as imports of rice, coffee, bananas and sugarcane were previously allowed to contain residues of carbofuran.” He adds, “After this revocation, countries wishing to export these foods to the US must stop using carbofuran on these four major crops.”

Dr Leakey, who has been central to the call to ban this lethal poison, urges Mr Odinga to act now to stop this carnage. “The Prime Minister did well to adopt that young lion cub, but now is the time for him to lead in a much more significant action to save lions – declare them an endangered species in Kenya and enforce a total ban on carbofurans” he says.

This, according to WildlifeDirect, must be coupled with proper management of lions, compensation for depredation of livestock, incentives and rewards for communities and land owners to protect lions, plus effective enforcement by the wildlife authorities. These actions could bring the lion back from the brink of national extinction and restore the pride to Kenya’s national symbol.