joined other wildlife conservationists in the ivory walk aimed at
sensitizing Kenyans and the world to save elephants and other endangered
species from extinction.
Speaking at Mount Kenya Academy in
Nyeri before embarking on the walk, the First Lady blamed the continued
poaching of elephants in Kenya and Africa on countries of the world and
individuals who provide ready markets for Ivory.
"I want to
appeal to buyers of ivory to consider ending the trade on tusks in order
to discourage poaching and save elephants from distinction," Kenyatta
said in central Kenya.
Wildlife conservationists said rising
demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia has caused a poaching crisis in
recent years across Kenya in particular and Africa as a whole with over
1,000 rhinos having been killed on the continent in the last 18 months.
poaching menace has brought renewed attention to a crisis that has
persisted for decades -- the steady decline of Africa's wildlife due to
growing human populations and poverty that has put agricultural
communities at odds with wildlife for resources.
land for wildlife and land for farmers and pastoralists in Kenya has
also reached crisis level with rampant killing of lions and elephants
among other types of important wildlife.
The First Lady who was
accompanied by two members walked with conservationist Jim Nyamu who is
the Director at Elephants Neighbor Center in a race to save elephants
for four kilometers from Mount Kenya Academy to King'ong'o GK prison
before flagging him off to complete his journey to Nairobi.
is on the final phase of his two month walk from Maasai Mara to Nairobi
to sensitize the Kenyan communities and the world on the need to save
elephants from poachers.
She expressed pleasure at being part of
the walk to conserve the Kenyan elephant and reminded the buyers that
their continued trade on Ivory increased the demand for tusks and
killing of elephants.
Kenyatta, who expressed her solidarity with
elephant conservation initiatives, stressed the need for school
children to join in the wildlife conservation campaign by composing
songs, recitals and dances that discourage poaching in the country.
says it's at a point where it cannot allow further poaching of wildlife
because the animal numbers have been reducing at an alarming rate.
recent statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) indicate that
the number of elephants for instance has reduced from a high of 160,000
in 1970s to below 30,000.
KWS said between the 1970s and 1980s
Kenya lost over 80 per cent of her elephants, mainly due to intensive
poaching of elephants for ivory.
The East African nation has also
lost 21 rhinos and 117 elephants to poachers since the beginning of
2013. Out of these elephants, he said, 37 were killed in protected areas
while 80 were outside protected areas.
Kenya lost 289 elephants
to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012. Lion is also one
of the most endangered animals not only in Kenya but across Africa.
Kenya has an estimated 1,800 lions, down from 2,800 in 2002. The country had 30,000 lions in the 1960s, KWS data reveals
during the occasion, KWS Director William Kibet Kiprono said the
shrinking habitat, poaching and wildlife/human conflicts are the major
challenges facing wildlife conservation in the country.
pointed out that KWS was pushing for the passing of the new Wildlife
Bill before parliament to provide for stiffer penalties for poachers.