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Kenya First Lady launches "Hands off our Elephants" campaign

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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta receives Elephants drawing from 13 year old Richard Rutere during launch at Sankara hotel in Westlands, Nairobi. — at Sankara Hotel - Nairobi. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta receives Elephants drawing from 13 year old Richard Rutere during launch at Sankara hotel in Westlands, Nairobi. — at Sankara Hotel - Nairobi.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta launched an anti-poaching campaign dubbed “Hands off our Elephants” whose main objective is to educate Kenyans and the world on the need to conserve the elephant for posterity. She also launched the Kenya premier screening of a documentary “Battle for the Elephants”, a new film which exposes the brutal ivory trade and its effect on Africa and Kenya’s elephant populations.

Speaking during the campaign launch at a Nairobi hotel, the First Lady called on all Kenyans and friends of Kenya to take up their responsibility in stopping poaching so as to secure a Kenya where the elephants roam freely.

She emphasized that elephants and wildlife are the country’s future. A gift from God that should be our priority to preserve, enjoy and love.

The First Lady stressed that elephants are also a major tourist attraction to Kenya. Through tourism, she said, the Government earns revenues totaling to 120 Billion shillings annually which is the equivalent of four Thika Super Highways.

Additionally, the First lady said ivory trade threatened over 300,000 jobs in the country with millions of other direct and indirect beneficiaries from tourism being affected.

She regretted the slaughter of 183 elephants by poachers by July this year alone which has reduced their population in the country to approximately 30,000.

The First Lady said, “The statistics are alarming! Currently, our elephant population in Kenya has reduced to stand at approximately 30,000. Note that over 183 elephants have been slaughtered this year. And we are only in July!”

She added, “How can we stand by while one of the world’s most amazing species is driven to extinction? This is a recipe for instability and poverty, and the very stability of our beloved nation will be threatened”.

The First lady called on Kenyans and conservationists in general to pool resources towards stopping the escalating trend of elephant poaching in the country.

She added, “Unless this crisis is averted, in ten years there will be no wild elephants left in Kenya! Ten years – my own grandchildren will never see wild elephants. It is a thought too painful to imagine”. Like humans, elephant families that have lost their leaders will struggle, and without the wisdom and experience of their elders many will perish in times of hardship”.

The First Lady, who has been championing wildlife conservation, affirmed her personal commitment to the campaign so that together with other conservationists real solutions can be generated to save the African wild elephant.

“Whenever I see elephants, I marvel: At their grace. At their wise and ancient nobility. At their power and gentleness. At the very Majesty of who they are. And the more I learn about these remarkable beings, the more committed I become to saving them.” She said.

The First Lady commended KWS for the amazing work they are doing, directly or indirectly to fight poachers at the frontline. She also singled out for praise, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and partners who have just secured a critical land corridor for elephants in Amboseli.

She received 600 letters from school children to the President to support the anti-poaching campaign and acknowledged the role played by communities in Northern Kenya for assisting in the arrest of poachers. 

The First Lady lauded Jim Nyamu who recently just completed his 1,500 KM walk to raise awareness about conservation of the elephant at the grassroots.

Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judy Wakhungu, conservationists Dr Richard Leakey, Dr. Paulu Kahumbu and film maker John Heminway urged Kenyans to join hands in the campaign against poaching and conserve elephants as a national heritage.

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