* “Women in the Fight against Illegal Wildlife trade” *
For World Wildlife Day 2021
From Ol Ari Nyiro
Laikipia Nature Conservancy
On the Great Rift Valley of Kenya
World Wildlife Day was first declared in 2014 at the height of poaching activities, that, in Africa, included Ivory, rhino horn and sandalwood.
At that time Kenya was still suffering for the resurgence of elephant poaching, which spiked again from 2007:
In 2007, the twenty years moratorium on the sale of ivory intended to remove legal ivory from markets, lessen its value and hence the demand, and contribute to rescuing the elephant from the brink of extinction, was suspended two years before it was due to expire, to accommodate the request to Cites by 4 southern African states to be allowed to sell their accumulated ivory, to the Far East.
The move proved disastrous.
Historically in this part of Kenya, the killing of rhino and elephants for the illegal wildlife trade had began in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, with the collapse of Somalia and deserters from that army infiltrating northern Kenya, arming pastoralists and providing a market for rhino horn and ivory.
Up to that time local tribesmen would kill wildlife only occasionally, for subsistence: the introduction of the financial angle brought to the indiscriminate slaughter of entire populations.
Here in Laikipia, where the largest amount of wildlife outside parks in Kenya still exist, the killing of elephant- and rhino- reached unprecedented heights.
In Ol ari Nyiro we lost over 40 indigenous black rhino in the span of few years. And over 200 elephants.
In 1981 I had started the first private anti-poaching in Kenya.
The 20 years moratorium was initiated in 1989 -after the historical burning in Kenya of 12 tons of ivory by President Daniel arap Moi at the suggestion of Richard Leakey:
by removing ivory from legal markets, the price had collapsed, and the moratorium on international sales had succeeded in beginning to reconstitute the lost herds.
Its premature suspension sent the wrong message: demand and price increased simultaneously, black markets soared, Illegal weapons cartels and poaching once again skyrocketed.
So, what has changed in 7 years?
The planet at this time is reeling as a result of a pandemic of unprecedented magnitude, the source of which may have come from consumption by humans of contaminated wild animals parts.
While the demands for ivory has decreased mostly due to the stigma it generated for the countries indulging in this shameful traffic and consequently elephant poaching has lessened, other factors have intervened.
Increased population and new settlements, intrusion in remote spaces with resulting pollution, fencing and fragmentation of habitats, while the illegal charcoal trade has skyrocketed devastating the wildlife areas and the wildlife natural food plants, while introduction of mono cultures, insecticides, and exotic species of plants, have created additional conflict.
Logging, deforestation, mining, livestock in excess of carrying capacity of available land, fossil fuels and green house gas emissions have degenerated into loss of habitats, interruption of migratory corridors, and brought to environmental degradation of unprecedented proportions.
The resulting global warming and unpredictable weather patterns or “climate change” are today’s major tragedy.
We need to reconstitute the balance; reacquire the respect.
All is connected.
It is crucial to take collective responsibility to ensure that the archaic, despicable and unnecessary trade never resumes.
Wildlife parts have a value only if they are on the live animal.
I have done my best here to protect the indigenous vegetation and the underground springs that it supports, the pollinators, the biodiversity.
Here where I live, in the oasis of Kuti, where only natural sounds break the silence, I have been thinking.
I have been watching the birds and their antics, the small insects following their complex paths with inherited determination, underground tubers bloom unexpected amongst roots on rocky tracks, while at night silently elephant come into my garden, and impala and buffalo, to drink at the pond a few meters from my bedroom.
Behind the secrets of nature remains something intangible, subtle and inexplicable.
That which is impenetrable to our knowledge really exists.
Veneration for this mystery and force is my religion.
The confidence of the starlings landing on my hands is my reward.
All is connected.
The Gallmann Memorial Foundation
On World Wildlife Day
3rd March 2021
The Gallmann Memorial Foundation
Ol Ari Nyiro Laikipia Nature Conservancy
Dedicated to the Coexistence of People and Nature in Africa
P.O. Box 63704 00619 Nairobi Kenya
Please help us with the ongoing rebuilding and the maintaining of vital conservation infrastructure on Laikipia Nature Conservancy, while supporting our philanthropic work of education and scholarships, community support, assistance to neighbours, public health, food drought relief, water, road building and maintenance.
And of course continuing to equip the outstanding team of rangers with uniforms, transport, binoculars, infrared cameras and everything they need to continue to protect and monitor the unique Biodiversity of Ol Ari Nyiro, and also support our ongoing re-forestation project to combat global warming by planting more and more indigenous trees.
With your help we can secure Kuki’s vision and legacy in perpetuity.
Please help us by making a donation below, however small or big it may be!!!