NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – “I gained more impetus to continue with my conservation work when a senior government officer during the International Elephant Awareness and Appreciation Day in Voi asked me why I bother walking around talking about elephants… getting blisters when we have one million elephants in the country,” Jim Nyamu an animal conservationist told Capital FM News.,
The animal activist, who has just concluded a 50-day walk around the country covering 1,700 Kilometres, says he wants to embark on an awareness programme on the importance of animals.
Despite enormous challenges in his task, he says he has put the right garments and nothing will stop him until he wins the fight against game poaching.
“Earlier on, I used to look myself as a person without resources to do this. I used to think I need a car until I realised I had my two legs and mouth to use; and these are my two greatest tools that I am going to use,” he affirmed.
Talking of his walk, he said, “Sometimes I almost gave up…too much planning, too much pressure, insecurity in some areas like Samburu but when the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta joined me in Nyeri I was excited because people started believing in me.”
“I had been able to attract the First Family and I still remember the First Lady’s words, “Ivory belongs to elephants”. This really motivated me to move on,” he said wearing a smile on his face.
Nyamu says he intends to create more opportunities to talk to people through walks and other awareness programmes. “People should be told about real facts, statistics and more so create awareness on the value of these animals.”
Nyamu, who has been fighting elephant poaching in the country for the past16 years, says his journey has started with the continued poaching activities in the country.
“My passion grew when I was in class 8 when I read a magazine on wildlife,” he revealed.
“We are losing three elephants per day. Their mortality rate is at four percent while growth rate is at two percent; this really scares me,” Nyamu said. “It is not time to celebrate, it is time to mourn.”
Nyamu’s predicament is the continued trend that has extended to other East Africa Countries.
“In 1997, there were 167, 000 elephants in the country but the number drastically decreased in 1989 to 16,000 though it later grew to what we have now at 30,000,” he noted.
Having background in elephant conservation through trainings he has undertook in Tanzania, and as a Kenya Wildlife Service officer, Nyamu feels the number still is not stable.
Nyamu who is also the director of Elephant Neighbour Centre, an anti poaching organisation says killing animals is like “an economic sabotage.”
He observed that,“80 percent of wildlife is outside the protected areas since the model is changing from the landscape conservation model to community based conservation model .This means animals are running from protected areas to the communities because there are readily available resources.”