Wakhungu launches drive to save elephants
By OWINO SAMWEL
The Government has launched a campaign dubbed ‘Hands off Our Elephants’ to eradicate poaching in the country. Cabinet Secretary for Environment,Water and Natural Resources Judy Wakhungu said Government has designed plans to stop the menace which she termed as an economic crime. “We are determined to stop this evil that has affected our wildlife for a long time,” she said.
She said her ministry in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service is determined to preserve the country’s heritage. The plans include use of sniffer dogs and scanners at Mombasa port and Jomo Kenyatta Airport to identify hidden ivory. She said the new Wildlife Bill which recommends stiffer penalties for poachers will be presented to parliament.
“The Bill proposes harsh punishment for poachers, which if adopted by parliament, will reduce poaching,”she said. Statistics show 270 elephants were killed in 2011, 384 in 2012 and this trend has to stop so as to attract more tourists, she said. “Kenya has to redeem its international image by fighting poaching and we are ready to regain our lost glory.”
The campaign also includes Kenya Airways and Wildlife Direct companies that have expressed the need to save wildlife. Kenya Airways chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said they will support the initiative until the crime is checked. “Kenya Airways will not condone poaching and any staff found invloved in ivory smuggling will face the consequences,” Naikuni warned.
Speaking at the same event,WildlifeDirect CEO Paula Kahumbu said ivory trafficking in Kenya doubles every six months but expressed optimism the campaign will stop the trend. Kenya Wildlife Service Director William Kiprono cited inadequate personnel as a major hindrance to fighting poaching but revealed they have received Sh2 million from the Government to buy equipment.
Kenya,Uganda and Tanzania are main sources of ivory while Philippine,Vietnam and Malaysia are main transit areas. China and Thailand have been identified as major ivory consumers. As the campaign is launched, former US defence attaché in Nairobi has been convicted of smuggling ivory, hours after President Obama pledged to stop wild- life trafficking. David McNevin was arrested with 21 pieces of ornately carved elephant tusks as he boarded a flight to the Netherlands, from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International airport.
This article’s link is: http://www.thepeople.co.ke/11964/wakhungu-launches-drive-to-save-elephants/