Using art to push for elephants and rhino conservation

April 27, 2016 11:25 am
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Death of elephants especially female and males, he said, become an extra expense for the government which spends money to bring up abandoned calves/FRANCIS MBATHA
Death of elephants especially female and males, he said, become an extra expense for the government which spends money to bring up abandoned calves/FRANCIS MBATHA

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – Watching 105 tonnes of ivory go up in flames this Saturday, will be a stark reminder of the many elephants and rhinos that have died to give rise to such a stockpile.

Whereas, Kenya and indeed the world is celebrating the burning of ivory to declare poaching illegal and non beneficial, Kenya cannot run away from the fact that the huge piles translate to the sad truth of the large number of elephants and rhinos killed.

It is the thought of the pain and loss of elephants and rhinos that has inspired Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi to team up with Kuona Trust to give 15 Kenyan artists a platform to use their artistic work to express views on wildlife conservation.

At one corner of the reception of the chic hotel is Collins Okello, a young man from Kisumu.

His love for art earned the 24 year-old recognition when President Uhuru Kenyatta accepted his drawing gift for his 53rd birthday.

When we met Okello, he was busy brushing his sketches of a baby and mother elephant.

His piece of work depict that poaching does not only reduce the number of elephants or rhinos but also breaks family units which affects the animals emotionally.

Death of elephants especially female and males, he said, become an extra expense for the government which spends money to bring up abandoned calves.

“This is a drawing of a mother and baby elephant. I am using acrylics to create emotions. Elephants have human elements, they love, they have families and they have relationships. When a poacher kills an elephant, a family unit is destroyed,” Okello explained.

His inspiration stems from an incident where he saw a family of elephants mourning the death of a calf.

According to researchers, elephants’ emotions run as deep as those of humans.

They bellow and blare during birth, they rumble and trumpet when there is trouble. They entwine trunks during re-union and mourn in times of sadness.

Boniface Maina, a visual artist was using acrylics to make an expensive palatial throne.

Inside the throne is a rich king sitting enjoying luxuries of life at his comfort.

It is a unique throne decorated with expensive wood with its edges covered with ivory.

The floor of the throne is covered with leopard skin.

His drawing illustrated that for Kenya to win in the fight against poachers, it has to deal with the market and the kingpins.

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