The Elephants & Rhinos

Today Kenya officially launched the use of one of the biggest and most anticipated projects made possible by the help of the Chinese government, the Standard gauge railway. It is a project I am also proud of and support since a railway transport sees to it that we reduce the number of trucks and buses on the road used to transport goods and passengers across the country, greatly cutting down on CO2 emissions.

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An African Elephant, Image courtesy of Big Life Foundation

Now early this year, Kenya was among the African countries happy with the news from China’s president Jinping stating that he will ban commerce in ivory by the end of this year. We haven’t heard anything further since then and we have reason to be worried. You see China has long been the leading consumer of ivory and elephant horns among many other animals products like bones, skin and bile of various animals and pay quite a huge sum for the above.

The problem arises when nearly all the targetted animals come from the African continent. Since killing these animals or taking them from African countries is prohibited by law, we see a rise of a black market that includes these animals and various animal products in their supply chain due to the great value they fetch and the huge ready market available in Asia.

With the loopholes in security involved in protecting the targetted animals, wide-roaming areas for the animals against limited and poorly armed personnel, high unemployment levels, attractive sums of money earned from animal trafficking and poaching, among many other reasons, has made it relatively hard to eradicate senseless killing of our animals mostly elephants and rhinos.

Another challenge faced by our wild animals is the increased human activities now encroaching into the animals territory. Extensive fencing by landowner dwelling between reserves has seen animals become restricted in their movement when searching for pasture and others get killed as they interact with human settlement. An in-depth coverage of this story can be found on this link “wildlife under threat”

Earlier today I watched a documentary by Al Jazeera titled “Wildlife Warzone – making a difference” We get to see a handful of South Africans and other nationals come together to train and get armed with skills that would see them work as rangers to protect South Africa’s wildlife, including follow-ups on their day to day life encounters with the animals they protect and some of the poachers on the hunt.

Here in Kenya, we see the very communities that have killed these very animals for years today see them from a different embrace them, protect them and use now means to keep them away from their farms and homes.

Which brings me back to the Asian continent, as China invests in Africa to help boost economic growth, through investments like Kenya’s Thika superhighway, funding of the standard gauge railway that was officially launched today by President Uhuru Kenyatta, and many more projects, we humbly ask that it also makes the fight against ivory and rhino horns a priority in an effort to bring down the poaching and illegal animal smuggling to an end. If this is accomplished by the end of this year I am sure any other country involved in the consumption of Ivory, rhino horns and smuggling of animals will give up this practice that is long overdue.

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