Happy New Year From WildlifeDirect

By Njambi Maingi

We celebrated the start of 2015 on a welcomed high note. No other motivation was more fitting than the conferment of the Order of the Grand Warrior – OGW – on our CEO Dr Paula Kahumbu and fellow conservation partner, Katito Saiyalel of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

An award ceremony was held at the Amboseli Serena lodge, and presided over by the cabinet secretary of the Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

OGW is a State commendation, awarded by the President of Kenya “in recognition of outstanding or distinguished service rendered to the nation in various capacities and responsibilities”

The Kenya Wildlife Service Assistant Director for the Southern Conservation Area, Mr. Julius Cheptei was present as the master of ceremony.

Dr Paula receives the OGW medal from CS Wakhungu

Dr Paula receives the OGW medal from CS Wakhungu


“I am humbled and moved in accepting this award. To me, this is the most important award I have received. I do so on behalf of all my staff, board, interns volunteers, supporters and of course the elephants who have all inspired me.  This award is a substantial recognition of the significance of our work in elephant conservation to by beloved country, Kenya. Knowing that the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign is not just making a difference, but has the support of the Republic of Kenya, gives us a renewed conviction to the seriousness in our efforts to end poaching, ivory trafficking and the buying of ivory” – Dr Paula Kahumbu, OGW.




Katito Saiyalel of ATE receives her OGW medal from CS Wakhungu

Katito Saiyalel of ATE receives her OGW medal from CS Wakhungu


“I feel lucky, that this award was conferred to me, here in Amboseli my home. I will continue to protect these elephants and other elephants too. I am so happy and proud of myself. What next for me? Keep protecting our elephants.” – Katito Saiyalel, OGW

Congratulations Dr Paula, OGW & Katito Saiyalel, OGW.

For more pictures click here


On the 5th of January, the first day at the office in 2015, WildlifeDirect staff were pleasantly surprised by a visit from our ‘founding father’ Dr Richard Leakey. He is a rare appearance at the WildlifeDirect office. But he had to get a firsthand look at the latest addition to the WildlifeDirect awards, the OGW Medal. The team, not missing out on the photo opportunity, posed with Dr Leakey before he left shortly.








Leakey @ office




Dr Leakey admires Dr Paula’s OGW medal at the WildlifeDirect office.




leakey office team


L-R: Chris Kiarie, John Mutie, Liz Gitari, Dr Paula Kahumbu, Dr Richard Leakey, Bertha Kang’ong’oi, Njambi Maingi, Victor de la Torre Sans.)







This week, the spirited volunteer and supporter of Hands Off Our Elephants, Peter Muthee, paid us a courtesy call. Peter is a talented young painter, who donated his ‘Hidden Elephant’ painting to help raise public awareness and mobilization about elephants conservation.

“In 2013 when the poaching of elephants became very rampant and was frequently in the news, I painted this abstract elephant, to help raise awareness to the crisis. I hope to participate in more Hands Off Our Elephants projects this year,” he said.

Thank you Peter for your kindness, we look forward to more interactions in 2015!



Peter Muthee presents the painting to Njambi Maingi at the WildlifeDirect offices

America Plans to List African Lion as Endangered Species


The US Dept of Fish and Wildlife are currently considering listing the African Lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, which would allow protections like adding permitting restrictions on lions from trophy hunts to be imported into the US.
They are taking public comment on this until Jan. 27, 2015 here – http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R9-ES-2012-0025-3488.

Please take a minute to comment in support of this important measure and share people in your networks.


Thank you.

Wildlife Conservation Through Sports at the Maasai Olympics

By Njambi Maingi, Outreach Coordinator, WildlifeDirect

An athlete crosses the finish line at the Maasai Olympics. The Maasai Olympics were held the Sidai Oleng Sanctuary, at the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. By Paula Kahumbu

An athlete crosses the finish line at the Maasai Olympics. The Maasai Olympics were held the Sidai Oleng Sanctuary, at the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. By Paula Kahumbu

Saturday 13 December was the second edition of the Maasai Olympics. Organised by the Big Life Foundation, the Olympics were founded as an event to replace the hunting of lions as a cultural rite of passage, and encouraging Maasai morans (warriors) to use their strength to fight for trophies and prizes and not to kill wildlife.

In a riot of colours of deep reds, deep blues, glistening beads and a palpable energy all over the Kimana Sanctuary at the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem, the event was also a rallying call for wildlife conservation.

WildlifeDirect was happy to be present at the Olympics and to support conservation efforts of Big Life Foundation. Through the CEO Dr Paula Kahumbu, WLD presented donated shoes for girls who participated in the 100m and the 1,500m races.


Girls pick their shoes before taking part in the 800m race. The shoes were donated to the girls through WildlifeDirect, and delivered by the CEO, Dr Paula Kahumbu


The competing athletes represented four local group ranches, including Imbirikani, Kuku, Rombo and Olgulului. They participated in a series of games that mimic traditional skills as an expression of the community’s willingness to save lion populations and raise awareness about wildlife conservation. The games included the Maasai High jump, The Rungu throw (Rungu-a traditional wooden club, and the Javelin throw. There was also the 100m, 200m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m run in which the women also participated.

“Charity begins at home, and having the Maasai take the lead in the protection of wildlife is a good way to take on the challenge of wildlife preservation.” said David Rudisha, one of Kenya’s top athlete, the Olympic record holder and gold medalist of the 800-m race,  and patron of the Maasai Olympics.

Representatives of Big Life stressed the importance of involving community’s leadership in organising the Olympics and sensitising them about conservation efforts.

“Due to programs such as these, there is an increasing positive perception towards wildlife and conservation,” said Tom Hill, of the Big Life Foundation. “The community is now more willing to endorse the elephant anti-poaching activities by the community scouts. Through our information network, a well known elephant poacher, Kerumpoti Leyian, who had been on the run, was recently arrested and sentenced to prison for seven years”.

In addition to earning pride and highly coveted awards such as the trophies and medals, winners also received cash prizes, education scholarships and a prize bull was also up for grabs.


A moran takes part in the Maasai High jump competition at the Maasai Olympics. By Paula Kahumbu

A moran takes part in the Maasai High jump competition at the Maasai Olympics. By Paula Kahumbu

Many community member present at the games cited the economic importance of lions and elephants to tourism within the group ranches and emphasized on the need to protect wildlife for community development; a win for both wildlife and the community.

This colourful event was sponsored by the National Geographic Society, African Wildlife Foundation,  the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Chester Zoo, the Olive Branch among others. It was attended by hundreds of community members, tourists, conservation organizations, the media. Cynthia Moss, Katito Saiyalel and Norah Njiraini of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants were also present as well as the leadership and administration of the local county government.

Note: The Kenyan lion population has decreased by 85% in the last 15 years and stands today at a mere 2000, with losses of up to 100 lions a year. This is mainly as a result of human-wildlife conflict brought about by the depredation of livestock owned by the Maasai. The Maasai have used their traditional knowledge of hunting to seek retaliation through spearing and the use of poisons. Experts claim that if prudent action is not taken, lions face extinction in the wild within the next 10 years.




China MUST act, but AFRICA take the lead to stop ivory trade

China must act, but Africa take the lead to stop ivory trade

By Paula Kahumbu with Andrew Hallyday


Workers destroy confiscated ivory in Dongguan, southern Guangdong province, China, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Workers destroy confiscated ivory in Dongguan, southern Guangdong province, China, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP


A major new study provides disturbing proof that the crisis facing African elephants is even worse than people imagined, driven by the exploding trade in illegal ivory in China.

The study, written by ivory market researchers Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin, and funded by Save the Elephants (STE) and the Aspinall Foundation, found that skyrocketing demand for ivory in China has sparked a booming trade in smuggled ivory. There are ever greater numbers of items on sale, carving factories, and legal and illegal retail outlets.

The expanding legal trade provides a perfect cover for laundering vast quantities of illegal ivory. The Chinese government is taking some measures to control the illegal ivory market, but it’s not doing enough. The situation is currently out of control.

The study concludes: “without China’s leadership in ending demand for ivory Africa’s elephants could disappear from the wild within a generation.”

This conclusion seems self evident. In fact this point has been made time and again. For example, an article published in Time magazine almost exactly a year ago concluded that if the Chinese authorities don’t act fast, we could be heading toward a future without elephants.

In the run-up to London summit on wildlife crime in February, I wrote “all eyes are on China” and in the aftermath suggested that we are losing to battle to save wildlife because “western leaders … don’t have the guts to take on China”.

What’s depressing is that so little has changed, despite the impassioned rhetoric of world leaders, high profile campaigns celebrities and British royals, and the sterling efforts of campaigning organisations like STE. To make change happen I suggest we need to challenge the notion of “China’s leadership” on two counts.

First, although Chinese action is essential to save Africa’s elephants, the leadership should come from Africa. While China may face a “conservation challenge” as stated in the title of the report, it is Africa’s elephants that are facing extinction.


Young demonstrators sit with a placard as they prepare to take part in the “Global March for Elephants and Rhinos” in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

Young demonstrators sit with a placard as they prepare to take part in the “Global March for Elephants and Rhinos” in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

Unfortunately, despite growing civil society engagement with wildlife issues, so far few African leaders have demonstrated they are serious about taking action. One of them, President Khama of Botswana, recently asked me, despairingly: “Where is the pride of Africa? Why aren’t we setting the agenda here? It is we who have the elephants.”

A recent Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) report made some highly publicised claims about involvement of visiting Chinese officials in ivory smuggling out of Tanzania. These claims were furiously – and unconvincingly – denied by Chinese authorities. What got less publicity was the much longer part of the EIA report analysing ingrained institutional corruption in Tanzania and the complicity of Tanzanian authorities in the illegal ivory trade.

Africans will not have the political or moral authority to make demands on the Chinese until we put our own house in order.

Secondly we have to stop thinking about “China” as a monolith – a single actor in the unfolding drama.

China is a highly complex society. The dynamic of ivory trade is driven by interactions among a wide range of actors. Political leaders, government officials, organised criminals, consumers and civil society organisations all contribute to the illegal ivory trade and attempts to control it in different ways. We need to understand their roles and target our actions and campaigns accordingly.

For example, was the ivory spending spree by the Chinese delegation in Tanzania sanctioned ‘from above’ or was it a case of lower-level officials getting out of control? In the first case, a high level diplomatic protest might be in order. But in the second case it might be more effective to engage with Chinese civil society organizations already combating corrupts officials at home.

Consumers who purchase ivory are also driven by different motives. The report suggests that “investors banking on continued rises in the price of ivory appear to be a significant factor in the recent boom, rather than buyers of traditional ivory carvings”.

This is important information. Buyers of handicrafts might well be swayed by awareness raising campaigns, but law enforcement is likely to be a more effective strategy against unscrupulous investors – and of course also against the organised crime networks that supply them.

Let’s be clear: China is also a highly centralised society. If the Chinese nation is contributing to the ongoing extinction of Africa’s elephants – as it is – the Chinese government deserves the lion’s share of the blame.

But, here again, we need to understand China better in order to know the best way to the influence Chinese authorities. China’s leaders are sensitive to pressure from foreign governments— and the hard evidence of reports by organizations like STE and EIA. It was notable that the first online report I found of the press conference in Nairobi today to launch the report was a long article in the South China Morning Post.

But Chinese authorities are also sensitive to pressure from an increasing confident civil society inside China. A recent visit to China by two young African activists, Christopher Kiarie of WildlifeDirect and Resson Kantai of STE, provided encouraging evidence of the potential for linkages between African and Chinese civil society organizations, to work together to increase pressure on the Chinese government to change.

A joined-up strategy led by Africans at all levels of society offers the best chance of success in these desperate times.



WildlifeDirect Welcomes Statement by Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu on Destruction of Ivory Stockpiles in Kenya

25 November 2014, Nairobi


Press Statement


WildlifeDirect Welcomes Statement by Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu on Destruction of Ivory Stockpiles in Kenya

The Chairman of WildlifeDirect Kenya, Philip Murgor, and the CEO of WildlifeDirect, Dr Paula Kahumbu, would like to strongly support the Cabinet Secretary for Environment , Water and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu, for her statement and stand in regard to ivory stockpiles in Kenya.

“At WildlifeDirect, we are very pleased that the minister has openly advocated for the destruction of ivory stockpiles in Kenya,” said Dr Kahumbu. “We agree with the minister, that the only way of stopping the ivory from getting into the market is by destroying it. Our elephants are facing extinction, and we must do what it takes to conserve them, not just for us but as a world heritage”.

The cabinet secretary was quoted in a media report this week, saying that ivory stockpiles should be destroyed to keep them from getting back into the market, adding that the move will deter the supply and demand for ivory.

On his part, the chairman Philip Murgor said that Kenya had demonstrated leadership and courage to go against the grain in the late 80s, when the then president Daniel Moi destroyed 12 tonnes of ivory in order to persuade the world to end trade in ivory.

“This bold move worked in the 90s. Elephant numbers began to rise across the continent.  It can work again, and the current trend of 35,000 elephants killed every year in Africa can be reversed. We are very pleased that the current leadership appreciates the significance of destroying ivory stockpiles”.




For more information, please contact Dr Paula Kahumbu on 0722 685 106 or Bertha Kang’ong’oi on 0720 712 730.


Keep Tim Alive
An encounter with a wounded tusker reminds me that saving elephants is the only true measure of success of our campaigns

Tim, one of the world's largest Tuskers

Tim, one of the world’s largest Tuskers

Photograph: John Heminway/WildlifeDirect
Amboseli, Kenya, 7 November 2014.

We are sitting in the beautiful Tortillis camp overlooking the wide savannah. Just as we are about to move on to another item on the agenda, Scott Asen, one of our newest board members, consults his phone and announces: “Tim just sent me a text. He’s waiting. I think we should go now.” Words said in jest that had a profound meaning for all of us present.

Tim is one of the world’s biggest tuskers and his home is Amboseli. Like other bull elephants he leads a nomadic life, roaming far and wide across the vast national park and beyond. We felt blessed that he had shown up on this particular day. After two days of hard work and important progress for elephant conservation we felt Tim was here to say “thank you”. But what we saw shocked us to the core. Tim had not come to say thank you, he was pleading with us: “Help me.”

The WildlifeDirect Board of 14 extraordinary men and women from USA, UK and Kenya had met less than 24 hours earlier with Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya, and with Judi Wakhungu, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

We presented the successes of the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign, launched by WildlifeDirect a year ago, in bringing together Kenyans from all walks of life to stand up for elephants and wildlife, and lobbying governments worldwide to take action against the international crime cartels behind the poaching crisis that is threatening Africa’s elephants.

Then we heard about the ministry’s successes in passing new laws and strengthening the protection agencies, and about the many challenges remaining. And then at the most unexpected moment, the usually shy and withdrawn First Lady stepped up to agree to a raft of requests: for her to spearhead the replication of the campaign across Africa, and for Kenya’s elephants and rhinos to be declared national treasures.

She also supported our call for a Kenyan national Wildlife Festival to enlist all sectors of society in wildlife conservation efforts. Everything was going swimmingly, and then the First Lady turned to ask: “But why aren’t you guys working together?” I felt busted and immediately agreed to work with Judi to assemble an independent team of experts to conduct a national assessment of Kenya’s elephants and rhinos.

As we left the meeting The First Lady hugged me and said: “Don’t ever give up, you must fight on”. I left State House on a cloud, and things got better as the day progressed.

That evening we celebrated the achievements of the first year of the campaign with supporters and partners in government and beyond. Our Facebook page described the “colour and pomp, smiles and hugs” of the Hands Off Our Elephants first birthday party.

The US Ambassador Bob Godec brought some members of the audience to tears with a powerful speech from the heart. He said it was not just his job to help us save elephants, but also a deeply held personal conviction.

Our keynote speaker, the Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga, remembered the first day he ‘met’ me through what he described as the first of a series of “angry emails”. I had been going to court, and was appalled to see how ivory poachers and traffickers were being let off. The emails were to tell him just how diabolical it all was. He gave WildlifeDirect permission to continue our hard-hitting approach: “Don’t stop being angry.”

Fast forward, and the next evening we are all sitting atop of Land Rovers, off-road somewhere in Amboseli National Park. It is dense palm thicket and we can hear branches cracking. Tim is near. Then we see a monumental trunk above the palms, reaching high into the branches. It is only when we drive around to get a full view that we see the magnificence of his full body and his gigantic tusks.

It is 4.50 pm and the sun is gleaming on his ivory. An audible “aaaaaahhh” emanates from all of us. Tim is truly spectacular. Then Tim notices us and turns. It is as if he is hiding that which we find so beautiful, which too many Chinese are addicted to, and which translates to dollar signs for greedy poachers.

We sit quietly contemplating the giant Tim. I am acutely aware that it is very strange for this elephant I know so well to be so shy. He is usually proud and confident, and loves attention and cameras. And then the bombshell, as we see the sore his left flank, where blood and white clumps of puss are oozing out. This is why Tim is acting so strangely. He is in great pain.


Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign material was already calling to “Keep Tim Alive” before he was found injured in November 2014. Photograph: John Heminway/WildlifeDirect

Majestic Tim is injured. We can only speculate about recent events, that Tim has possibly been speared by someone from the local community. He may have threatened farmers, or perhaps a poacher was after him.

All of us sit in our own silence as we watch Tim for over an hour. Then Tim steps out in front of us and walks amongst us, but his walk is strained. I cannot describe the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I feel so helpless, but also chastened. We have been celebrating the successes of our campaign, but what right do we have to celebrate when poaching and human-wildlife conflict still threaten elephants every day?

Within seconds the purpose of WildlifeDirect is suddenly vivid. Kenya has already lost two iconic tuskers, Satao and Mountain Bull, this year. Hands Off Our Elephants was already campaigning to Keep Tim Alive. Now he needs our help.

In minutes we have a plan to give the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) 25 thousand US dollars to to monitor and protect Tim 24/7. We call Julius Cheptei, the KWS Assistant Director, and he agrees to assign a vet to the case immediately.

As we leave Tim, the six other bulls that make up his escort are walking off towards the edge of the park. We follow them for a short while, and see they are heading towards some local settlements. I am not worried. It’s their normal routine and the communities here are usually very tolerant of elephants.

But Tim does not follow. He stays 200 meters behind and then peels off towards the centre of the swamp. He is not going to put himself at risk again.


New Chairman for WildlifeDirect Kenya

Press Statement
14 November 2014, Nairobi
Philip Murgor is Appointed as the new Chairman of WildlifeDirect Kenya
The Board of Directors of WildlifeDirect is happy to announce the appointment of Philip Murgor as the new Chairman of the board of WildlifeDirect Kenya.
Murgor’s appointment was made at a board meeting held at the Amboseli National Park in early November 2014. The international board was in Kenya to mark the first anniversary of WildlifeDirect’s flagship campaign, Hands Off Our Elephants.
This appointment will greatly strengthen the organisation, given his wealth of experience gained over two decades, working in both local and international litigation, serving as formerly as a State Counsel, as Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions and currently as the managing partner of Murgor and Murgor Advocates.
WildlifeDirect is committed and dedicated to changing laws and people’s behaviour and attitudes related to wildlife crime in Kenya and throughout Africa. In the last year, WildlifeDirect, through its Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, was in the forefront in championing the passing into law of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013. Currently, the organisation is conducting a study into the enforceability of the new law in relation to wildlife trafficking crimes in Kenya.
Philip Murgor’s contribution towards this end will not only be felt in Kenya but across the entire African continent where the Hands Off our Elephants campaign will go to.
Other members of the Kenyan board include development expert Irungu Houghton and Ali Daud Mohamed, the Climate Change Advisor in the office of the Deputy President.
The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is the patron of the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, launched to advocate for the protection of remaining elephant populations.

For More Information, Please contact CEO of WildlifeDirect Dr Paula Kahumbu on 0722 685 106 or the Communications Manager Bertha Kang’ong’oi on 0720 712 730

Emmanuel Jal Joins Kenyans to Mark the World Elephant Day this Saturday, 9 August at the Brookhouse School

7th August 2014, Nairobi.

For Immediate Release

Emmanuel Jal Joins Kenyans to Mark the World Elephant Day this Saturday, 9 August at the Brookhouse School, from 10 am.

Former South Sudanese Child soldier, now African celebrity, Emmanuel Jal, will Join Kenyans on Saturday 9 August to mark the World Elephant Day. This will be at an event organised by WildlifeDirect and the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign to celebrate World Elephant Day at the Brookhouse School in Nairobi. The event aims to draw hundreds of Kenyans and will raise awareness about this magnificent species that could go extinct within our lifetimes. According to CITES, poachers in Africa gun down more than 20,000 elephants each year. Participants will gain enormous knowledge, meet and be inspired by Kenyans who are making a huge difference on the ground, have fun, find out why we should care and get involved in the cause.


It will involve the screening of two award winning films both made in Kenya and both about elephants. The first film, “Echo, An elephant to Remember” tells the story of one of the world’s most famous elephant, the late Echo. The film also features Kenyan Maasai scientists based at the Amboseli National Park . “White Gold”, also filmed in Kenya by Simon Trevor will be screened for the first time to a public audience. This film, narrated by Hillary Clinton, tells the dark story of poaching, ivory trade and its links to armed conflicts. Prominent Kenyans including Julie Gichuru , James Smart, Julius Cheptei, Judge Nzioki wa Kamau, Dr. Philip Muruthi, Raabia Hawa and Dr. Paula Kahumbu will join panels to discuss the various implications of ongoing crisis facing elephants in order to share knowledge, understanding and to offer solutions. The day’s program will include entertainment and promotion of the ongoing Ndovu Music Contest, a collaboration with the New York Based PCI Media Impact and one of Kenya’s hottest hip hop artists, Juliani (www.ndovumusic.com). Eric Wainaina has just joined the team. At just 18, Kenyan creator of Kikoti fashion, Iona McCreath will launch her partnership with WildlifeDirect with a fashion show intended to take the message “Don’t Buy Ivory” all the way to China. “We didn’t ask him, Emmanuel Jal just offered to join us on Saturday!”, Said Paula Kahumbu, the CEO of WildlifeDirect and the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign. “Emmanuel said he has sung about elephants before, but he grew up fearing elephants, not loving them. Through Juliani and WildlifeDirect he says he has discovered that elephants are so much like humans and was shocked to hear that their suffering is directly linked to ours through armed conflicts. He is committed to reaching and changing the hearts of 300 million African people through music, to save elephants and create peace”. Emmanuel Jal will Join Kenyans via Skype to discuss his work and how it can help us save elephants and create peace. As a former student of Brookhouse School he insists that the program made him who he is. Another famous Brookhouse scholarship student, Richard Turere the child inventor of Lion Lights, an electrical deterrent system to keep lions out of his father’s stockade, will feature on the program. Brookhouse school has supported the event by providing the venue at no cost and several major hotels and restaurants have given prizes to be won throughout the day. The African Wildlife Foundation and Cheli and Peacock Ltd have supported the costs of the event. The program will close at 4. 15 pm

Editor’s Note:
WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan NGO and US registered 501(c) (3) organization founded in 2006 by Kenyan conservationist Dr Richard Leakey, who is credited with putting an end to the elephant slaughter in Kenya in the 1980s and delivering an international ban on ivory trade. WildlifeDirect has over the years positioned itself as Africa’s foremost campaigning organization for wildlife conservation. Hands Off Our Elephants, the flagship campaign, comprises a winning combination of expertise including, wildlife ecologists, communications, law, politics, media, strategists, and linguists, making them bold, influential, and successful. The campaign has already won international recognition for creating public awareness and driving legal reforms in Kenya and East Africa. WildlifeDirect partners with civil society, government agencies and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative on elephants. WildlifeDirect’s vision is to secure Africa’s wildlife as a global heritage into perpetuity through policies and practices that support the development aspirations of African people. Their mission is to stop wildlife crises by inspiring all sectors of society to take responsibility and action to safeguard wildlife. By partnering with government, civil society and communities, WildlifeDirect identifies critical issues and executes innovative solutions. For more information, Please contact Paula Kahumbu at paula@wildlifedirect.org or call +254 722 685 106


During the past 10 years there has been an unprecedented growth in the illegal ivory markets and in 2011, the poaching of elephants in Africa reached a ten year record[i] with more than 25,000 elephants illegally killed[ii], corresponding with an all-time record of 38.8 tons of ivory seized[1]. Simultaneously, the price of ivory exploded from US$150/kg to over US$1,000/kg between 2008 and 2012. Importantly, the illegal ivory trade is believed to be financing local conflicts and international terrorism[2] through Al Qaeda’s Somali wing, Al Shabaab[3], the Lord’s Resistance Army[4] and Sudan’s Janjaweed. Further, the escalation of elephant poaching has rendered large parts of Eastern and Central Africa insecure for all, including poor and vulnerable rural communities and key income and job sectors, like tourism[5].

This massive growth in the illegal ivory markets grew in response to rising affluence in China’s middle class who demand and use ivory for artifacts as status symbols. This demand is fuelled through poor controls of domestic markets in China and other Asian countries, allowing illegal ivory to be laundered through legal domestic markets and exacerbated by the simultaneous presence of China in Africa as a development and trade partner – with hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants now operating in Kenya and millions across the continent.
This ivory trade is driven by criminal cartels threatening not only elephants and other species, but also people, their livelihoods, management of natural resources, the tourism sector (second biggest contributor at 12% of GDP) and local and national security. In recent speeches US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, stated that wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world and it needs to be addressed through partnerships as robust as the criminal networks themselves[6]. She noted that governments, civil society, businesses, scientists and activists must work together in educating people about the whole-scale devastation caused by wildlife trafficking.

Kenya traditionally has been on the front lines in combating elephant poaching in Africa and has been a leading voice on elephant conservation through various international conventions including CITES, the Convention on Biodiversity, the Convention on Migratory species and others. Despite these commitments, the current response of the Kenyan government to the crisis continues to falter and is wholly inadequate for the size of the problem. The combination of corruption and weak domestic wildlife laws means that Kenya has now become the second largest transiting country for illegal ivory in Africa, second only to Tanzania. Moreover, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda alone now account for nearly 70% of the illegal ivory flowing out of Africa. At the recently concluded CITES conference, the member nations put eight (8) countries (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and China), on notice to put an action plan in place to deal with the elephant poaching and ivory trading crisis, otherwise they will suffer sanctions stopping all wildlife trade, legal or illegal. Kenya’s leading role and voice in conservation has been undermined by this recent incident.

In response to this double-edged crisis, Wildlife Direct (see annex) has launched a Kenyan (with the option of replicating it to other African countries), multi-strand strategy to combat the key issues and challenges:

WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan NGO and US registered 501(c) (3) organization founded in 2006 by Kenyan conservationist Dr Richard Leakey, who is credited with putting an end to the elephant slaughter in Kenya in the 1980s and delivering an international ban on ivory trade. WildlifeDirect is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. WildlifeDirect was conceived as an online platform that promotes conservation of Africa’s spectacular wildlife by building an online community of supporters for conservationists at the frontline in Africa. Realizing, that our work, while effective, was inadequate to halt the emerging crises facing Africa’s elephants and other wildlife, WildlifeDirect has now re-positioned itself as Africa’s foremost campaigning organization for wildlife conservation. Hands Off Our Elephants, our flagship campaign comprises a winning combination of expertise including, wildlife ecologists, communications, law, politics, media, strategists, and linguists, making us bold, influential, and successful. This African led initiative is supported Kenya’s First Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta as patron. The campaign has already won international recognition for creating public awareness and driving legal reforms in Kenya and East Africa. WLD partners with civil society, government agencies and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative on elephants.

Our goal is to demonstrate excellence in Kenya, a country formerly renowned for it’s conservation successes and now reputed to be amongst the worlds most complicit in the illegal trafficking of ivory. We deliver political support for a strategy that achieves excellence in law enforcement through deterrent penalties combined with high probability of being arrested, excellent prosecutions, and fair trials.

We have secured success by mobilizing the public and drawing attention to key concerns.

To secure lasting results we seek ultimately to change the culture and therefore behavior of all Kenyans, and thereby also alter the global view of Kenya and thus attract support to enforce the national strategy for combatting international wildlife crime. Kenya’s success will only be secured if similar changes occur in the region – thus ultimately the outcome of this campaign must be replicated.

How We Work:
WildlifeDirect has an Africa focus with Kenya as the launch pad for its activities.

WildlifeDirect’s main strengths are:-

1. WildlifeDirect has relationships with multi-levels of Kenyan and international society across a diverse range of interests and entities, e.g., international NGOs, government authorities, management bodies, civil society groups, grass-root communities and their constituencies.
2. High-level international profile and combined expertise of the founder Dr. Richard Leakey, board members John Heminway, Philip Murgor, Irungu Houghton, Ali Mohamed, and Executive Director Dr. Paula Kahumbu.
3. High level of expertise through a diverse professional board, advisers, and consultants and a talented, committed staff.
5. WildlifeDirect plays a prominent leadership role in the non-governmental arena – including wildlife, environment, development, legal, tourism, conservation, and education.
6. WildlifeDirect has a proven track record of provoking action in conservation at governmental, intergovernmental and international levels.
7. WildlifeDirect’s visibility in traditional media (television, radio and newspapers), and innovative use of new media e.g. the internet to tell stories from the conservation ‘frontline’, raise awareness of crises and causing urgent actions to be instigated.

WildlifeDirect’s ability to mobilize African and international action in support of wildlife conservation.

[1] T. Milliken, R. B. (2012). The elephant Trade Information System and illicit trade in Ivory: Report to CITES Cop 16. TRAFFIC.

[2] Puhl, H. K. (2012, September 13). Brutal Elephant Slaughter Funds African Conflicts. Retrieved from Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/blood-ivory-brutal-elephant-slaughter-funds-african-conflicts-a-855237.html

[3] Gathura, G. (2012, December). Poachers funding Al-Shabaab, reveals KWS. Retrieved from Horn portal: http://horn.so/poachers-funding-al-shabaab-reveals-kws

[4] Witcher, T. (2012, December 19). LRA poaching ivory as Kony hunt intensifies. Retrieved from Reuters: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hcUql6ZHKSL2vxBmQ4QKuRo1ITaQ?docId=CNG.c60aa170c84f09544220fe3d340f8b33.31

[5] Goldenberg, S. (2012). http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/08/us-intelligence-wildlife-poachers. London: The Guardian.

[6] Clinton, Hilary. Remarks at the Partnership Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking. 8th November 2012

WildlifeDirect is expanding its Team

WLD is expanding its team.  

Positions available: Communications & Advocacy Officer, Operations Manager and Programme Manager.  

Application Process: You must provide an up-to-date version of your Curriculum Vitae, including your professional experience and qualifications until June 2014.  All applications must include a Cover Letter stating clearly and concisely how you match the essential criteria and values listed in the TOR below.

If you’re interested, download the TOR here and apply by 23rd July 2014, to jo@wildlifedirect.org.  

WLD Communications & Advocacy Officer-Final (1)

WLD Operations Manager-Final (1)

WLD Programme Manager-Final (1)

Please note that only applicants that clearly match their skills and experience to the requirements for this position will be considered.