NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – The government has expressed commitment in working with all stakeholders to push for a global ban on trade in ivory.
The Principal Secretary, State department of Natural Resources, Dr Margaret Mwakima says it will be hard to continue fighting the illegal trade of ivory if some countries are still open to the business.
She however says her ministry is working on strengthening the anti-poaching unit and also work with all security agencies to seal the existing border loopholes that allow the movement of ivory.
“My commitment is to mobilise resources so that we are able to give our wildlife the security they deserve. Also work with the like-minded stakeholders to actually close all the markets for these products and to seal every loophole that can lead to any transit,” the PS said.
She was speaking on Saturday evening at the Africa Wildlife Foundation Headquarters in Karen, ahead of the mega ivory burning event next weekend in Nairobi, expected to be attended by global leaders.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General Kitili Mbathi says the ivory burning event on April 30 will play a key role in creating awareness that ivory trade indeed has no economic value but a loss to the society.
“We believe that our ivory is only worth anything when it is on our elephants or our rhino horn, on the rhinos. Kenya doesn’t believe that there is any economic benefit to it. And more than that, we are hoping to use this event as a start of our campaign to try and push for a global ban in the trade of ivory,” Mbathi said.
On his part, Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association CEO Dickson Kaelo urged the government to consider reviewing the remuneration of the wildlife rangers as well providing latest equipment to boost morale.
He laments that in war against ivory trade, a lot of rangers are still going through a lot of hardships in terms of lack of resources yet they are supposed to deliver and deal with sophisticated poachers.
“It’s very hard for many of us to appreciate because often we have see elephants and lions while inside a vehicle. We have no idea what it feels like to be in a place where there is an elephant and there is no vehicle, you don’t have a mobile phone, you have no access to a helicopter, and you have to walk to protect it,” Kaelo said.
He has also called for more training of community rangers whom he says play a great role in wildlife conservation and local communities’ wildlife protection awareness.
The US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec says his government will continue supporting the Kenya Wildlife Service by providing the latest equipment aimed at enhancing security at game parks.
He also called for more education of local communities on the value of wildlife which will play a great role in reducing human-wildlife conflict.
“We are working as well to raise public awareness, on these issues. Here in Kenya we have $15 million worth of programmes that will dramatically increase our assistance to KWS, so that we are part of the solution to save elephants,” the ambassador said.
The event was organized by the US Embassy, partnering with the Kenyan Government, Kenya Wildlife Service and many others in the NGO community, donor community and media to raise awareness on the urgent need to protect and preserve the world’s wildlife heritage found in Kenya.