Thursday July 18, 2019
Home World Nairobi Natio...

Nairobi National Park: Thousands of elephants have been killed in recent years for their ivory

Kenya conducted the event to demonstrate that ivory has no value to anyone except elephants

0
//

Kenya conducted the event to demonstrate that ivory has no value to anyone except elephants. President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged his country’s support for a complete ban on the ivory trade at the conference for the global conservation body known as CITES, which opens Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, is expected to make a determination on whether countries in Africa should destroy seized ivory or be allowed to sell it to fund conservation efforts. The question has sparked heated debate on the continent, with some arguing that the future of elephants is at stake.

FILE - A worker carries spray bottles of gel fuel to help the burning, as he walks past pyres of ivory that were set on fire in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, April 30, 2016.
FILE – A worker carries spray bottles of gel fuel to help the burning, as he walks past pyres of ivory that were set on fire in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, April 30, 2016.

“Our philosophy has been to burn the entire stockpile,” said Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, “because this is one way of demonstrating to the world that if you offer trade in ivory, we give the misimpression that, actually, ivory is available. And yet it’s this very ivory that’s endangering our species.”

Tens of thousands of elephants have been killed in recent years for their ivory, as a result of strong demand from Asian markets. The recent “Great Elephant Census” showed a 30 percent decline in African savanna elephants between 2007 and 2014.

About 30 African countries, including Kenya, want a comprehensive ban on all international trade in ivory.

“Nobody should buy ivory in the world,” said Paul Udoto, corporate communications manager for the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Request to sell

Namibia and Zimbabwe have officially requested through CITES the right to sell their ivory stockpiles. Along with South Africa, these countries say they want to put the proceeds toward conservation efforts.

Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, suggested to parliament in July that there could be other uses for the funds from ivory sales.

FILE - A Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management official checks ivory inside a storeroom in Harare, Aug. 22, 2012.
FILE – A Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management official checks ivory inside a storeroom in Harare, Aug. 22, 2012.

“We have $9.6 billion worth of ivory in the country, sufficient to write off our debt,” Chinamasa said. “So this is the paradox of Africa. Rich Africa, poor Africans. Because the policies are coming from outside, and imposed on us. They don’t have elephants, but they become members of CITES to ban and stop us from disposing of our own assets.”

South Africa says destroying ivory makes it scarcer, upping the black market price and driving more poaching.

‘For the good of the elephants’

Kenya argues that previous “one-time” sales have demonstrated the opposite is true, and that opening up trade for some countries puts elephants across the continent at risk.

“It is very, very hard to distinguish between legal and illegal ivory,” said Philip Muruthi, vice president of species conservation at the African Wildlife Foundation. “And that means that having a legal supply of ivory in the market perpetuates the killing. And so, the cycle continues. Where you have trade, you have benefits going to a few kingpins, and you deny livelihoods to communities, and the populations continue to suffer.”

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Muruthi also emphasized the importance of a united African voice during the upcoming CITES talks.

“I know there are challenges, but I do believe an agreement will be found and it will be found for the good of the continent. It will be for the good of the elephants, and for the many, many communities and national economies that depend on elephants,” he said.

Although elephants are the top issue for Africa at the CITES talks, trade restrictions and allowances for close to 500 other plant and animal species — including pangolins, tigers, snakes, sharks and rosewood — will also be on the table. (VOA)

Next Story

US Institute of Peace Trains Kenyan Women to Help Fight Terrorist Radicalization Campaigns

The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects

0
terrorism, terrorist
FILE - Kenyans walk past closed shops in the capital after an attack on a hotel complex, claimed by al-Shabab, in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 18, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Institute of Peace is training Kenyan women from 20 organizations to help fight terrorist radicalization campaigns. The program comes as Kenya struggles to halt the recruitment efforts of Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects. The organization includes at least 20 women’s groups from Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa, all of which have seen deadly terrorist attacks by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

Sureya Hirsi, a member of the sisters’ group from Mombasa, attended the conference in Nairobi. She says it is time for women to take an active role in the fight against terrorism.

kenya, terrorism, terrorist
Kenya has been prime recruiting territory for al-Shabab since 2011, when the government sent troops into Somalia to fight militants. Pixabay

“The reason I joined this sisters group, it’s because I have been affected, I have family members, people whom I know, I know youths who have been recruited, and this is happening because as a community we don’t speak up about these issues. As a woman who is lucky and also educated, I have decided to be on the frontline to help my community so that we can speak about these issues that affect our community.”

Nicoletta Barbera, a program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says women can play a key role in preventing young people from going down the terrorist path.

“The women that we work with, the sisters without borders are integrated within their communities, they live, work, and serve. They are very aware of the threats that are in their homes, in their markets, in their communities. We enable them to identify those potential individuals who are prone in engaging in violent extremism and give them the skills to try to mitigate them at the very beginning when they see those initial signs of radicalization,” Barbera said.

kenya, terrorism, terrorist
The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects. Pixabay

Kenya National Counterterrorism Center Director Martin Kimani says that kind of ground-level activism is exactly what the country needs.

ALSO READ: Increasing Elephant Population in Botswana- A Major Reason for Human-Wildlife Conflict

“We in the security services are hunting and looking for recruiters to put them behind bars where they belong. But radicalization continues to be a problem.  That problem is going to need for the county level actions to get radicalization, to where, for example, Kenya got HIV/AIDS where everybody could speak about it, everybody knows what it is and everybody know their role in how to stop it and protect it each other from getting into that kind of life,” Kimani said.

Kenya has been prime recruiting territory for al-Shabab since 2011, when the government sent troops into Somalia to fight militants. Al-Shabab has been responsible for several major terrorist attacks, the worst coming in 2015, when al-Shabab fighters stormed Garissa University College, killing nearly 150 people. (VOA)