The Pope’s Great Chance To Help End Ivory Trade

November 24, 2015

By Paula Kahumbu

Conservationists will be hoping that Pope Francis speaks out against poaching and ivory trafficking during his upcoming visit. We have reason to feel confident that he will. Pope Francis has brought a new style of leadership to the Roman Catholic Church that has earned him respect among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

His forthright pronouncements on environmental issues such as climate change have revealed his deep scientific knowledge, as well as his love for the “irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty” of the natural world, and a profound awareness of the linkages between environmental and social justice.

For example in his Encyclical letter “On Care for Our Common Home”, he warns:

“Our Sister, Mother Earth …cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life”.

You do not have to a Catholic to be moved by these words.

On his visit to Kenya, there is a specific contribution that Pope Francis can make to combating ivory trafficking. He can speak out against religious practices that venerate objects made from the tusks of dead elephants. These are an integral component Buddhist and Hindu traditions and are still common among Catholics, for example in the Philippines. An article in National Geographic on the use of ivory for religious purposes quotes the head of Philippines customs police as saying: “The Philippines is a favourite destination of these smuggled elephant tusks, maybe because Filipino Catholics are fond of images of saints that are made of ivory.” Between 2005 and 2009, almost 20 tons of ivory were confiscated by customs in or on its way to the Philippines, representing a total of approximately 1,750 elephants.

Devotees believe that through their use of religious icons made of ivory they are honouring God. Ironically, the very opposite is true: they are complicit in the desecration of what Pope Francis calls the “infinite beauty and goodness” of His created world.

In his Encyclical, Pope Francis acknowledges his debt to his namesake Saint Francis of Assisi, who preached to birds and flowers. Pope Francis insists that it was not “naive romanticism” that led Saint Francis to venerate all of God’s creation in this way. In preaching to flowers, Saint Francis was celebrating the miracle of life. Surely, the difference between a flower that turns it head towards the sun and our ‘sophisticated’ human consciousness is only one of degree? Among higher animals, elephants in particular display qualities that fill us with wonder and awe. For example, elephants will go to extraordinary lengths to protect and care for an injured member of the herd.

Convinced that “we are all creatures of one family”, Saint Francis taught that “those who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity will deal likewise with their fellow man”. In modern language: a crime against nature is also – in a very real sense – a crime against humanity. Poaching destroys communities. Ivory trafficking is sustained by a web of violence and corruption. Moreover, in the words of our President in his inaugural address, poaching and trafficking are “economic sabotage”.

The Kenyan government has made great strides towards bringing poaching under control. Pope Francis’s Encyclical contains many insightful passages on the practical measures needed to protect this environment. But he also has an important message for Kenyans about the moral foundations of good governance. He warns: “

“In the absence of … sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species?”

Kenyans will make Pope Francis welcome. We should listen carefully to what he has to say.

Dr Paula Kahumbu OGW has a PhD in Ecology from Princeton University. She is a Kenyan conservationist and elephant expert. She is the CEO of WildlifeDirect, a Kenya based NGO that is running the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign with HE Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya.

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Strategies for success in the ivory war

Kenyans take to the streets in support of elephants and rhinos. Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, Nairobi, October 3rd, 2015. Photograph: WildlifeDirect

Kenyans take to the streets in support of elephants and rhinos. Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, Nairobi, October 3rd, 2015. Photograph: WildlifeDirect


Since 2013, according to the latest estimates, elephant deaths from poaching in Kenya are down by 80% and deaths of rhinos by 90%. This is a success story that deserves to be more widely known.

Kenya was traditionally in the forefront of wildlife conservation in Africa. However, in 2008 the sale of ivory from four southern African countries to China and Japan triggered an explosive demand and poaching erupted across the continent.

By 2012, the situation was almost out of control in Kenya due to corruption, ignorance, poor laws, and an inadequate anti-poaching response. Government agencies such as the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) were in denial.

I was among the many conservationists who felt angry and frustrated at the government’s refusal to respond to our concerns. One of our colleagues was arrested and others went into hiding for fear of being deported for exposing how serious the poaching crisis was.

The turning point came in February 2013 when the government finally agreed to call a special session of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) to discuss wildlife conservation. This landmark meeting was attended by many dozens of representatives of ministries, law enforcement agencies, the private sector, academia and civil society.

It was a tough-talking meeting. We challenged the government’s complacent view of the situation and questioned the capacity and commitment of KWS and border agencies to control poaching and trafficking.

Leading Kenyan conservationists, including Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Agatha Juma and Jake Grieves Cook, warned that thousands of elephants were being killed each year and of the threat this posed to tourism and the economy

Representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife and KWS denied the situation was a crisis; however, they did ask the government for support to tackle the growing poaching problem.

Richard Leakey and I spoke for WildlifeDirect and we presented a 14 point plan of action that had been developed with barrister Shamini Jayanathan. After intensive discussions the NESC adopted most of our recommendations and instructed authorities to urgently adopt a ‘whole government’ response to the crisis.

The NESC meeting was the first major effort of the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, which was officially launched five months later. Our aims were simple: to bring all sectors of society on board in order to defeat the poachers and traffickers, safeguard elephant populations, and turn Kenya into model for successful wildlife conservation.

The First Lady of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta (centre with hat) in her role as Patron of the campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants”, launched in 2013. The marchers are accompanying Jim Nyamu (in the beige t-shirt) on part of his walk across Kenya to raise awareness about poaching. Photograph: WildlifeDirect

The First Lady of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta (centre with hat) in her role as Patron of the campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants”, launched in 2013. The marchers are accompanying Jim Nyamu (in the beige t-shirt) on part of his walk across Kenya to raise awareness about poaching. Photograph: WildlifeDirect

Our initiative was coolly received in some quarters. Government officials accused us of being unpatriotic by damaging Kenya’s reputation abroad. Some fellow conservationists said we were being too ambitious.

We knew it would be difficult but we were confident that our aims were achievable, for three reasons:

  • Kenya has a vibrant civil society and a free press, so we would have the means to get our message across.
  • We had support in high places. The new President Uhuru Kenyatta, who took up office in April 2013, was known to be sympathetic to wildlife conservation. His wife, Margaret Kenyatta joined the campaign from the outset as its patron.
  • Kenya had done it before, in the 1990s, when KWS routed the poachers under the leadership of Richard Leakey, and President Daniel Arap Moi transformed global attitudes towards ivory by burning Kenya’s ivory stockpile.

Seven strategies for success

Looking back at what Hands Off Our Elephants has achieved so far, in an informal ‘mid-term evaluation’, I can identify seven things that have worked:

1. An evidence based approach. In making our case, we knew it would be not enough to rely on hearsay. We presented the results of 5 years of courtroom monitoring to prove that those arrested for wildlife crimes were being let off scot free or at most with derisory fines. We demanded – and got – an audit of Kenya’s ivory stockpile, overseen by independent observers.

Paula Kahumbu handing over the "Scoping study on the prosecution of wildlife related crimes in Kenyan courts" on behalf of WildlifeDirect to the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga in January 2014.
Paula Kahumbu handing over the “Scoping study on the prosecution of wildlife related crimes in Kenyan courts” on behalf of WildlifeDirect to the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga in January 2014. Photograph: WildlifeDirect


2. Mobilizing public support. We took our campaign into government offices and corporate board rooms, onto the streets and into schools and universities, and into the villages in areas that have elephants. We spoke to young people in language they would understand, with the support of pop stars, comic book authors, and sports personalities. In alliance with private sector, we took the message into supermarkets and onto airplanes.

This broad-based alliance has succeeded in generating a level of popular support for wildlife conservation never before witnessed in Kenya, or any other elephant range state.

Poster produced for the Ndovu music contest, featuring Kenyan hip hop artist Juliani. The contest invited young East Africans to use their musical talents to create a winning song for elephants.
Poster produced for the Ndovu music contest, featuring Kenyan hip hop artist Juliani. The contest invited young East Africans to use their musical talents to create a winning song for elephants. Illustration: WildlifeDirect

3. Mainstream media coverage. Our campaign transformed poaching from a wildlife conservation issue to headline news. Conservationists gave extensive TV interviews in prime-time current affairs slots, with the focus squarely on political, juridical and institutional capacity issues.

If you are reading this in Europe or North America, you might like to ask yourself when wildlife conservation was last given this treatment by media in your own country.

4. Political will. We were fortunate in this respect. In his inaugural address President Kenyatta signalled his intentions by referring to poaching as ‘economic sabotage’, and followed this up with a series of key measures to strengthen the law and the judiciary.

The First Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, made it clear that she intended to take an even more proactive role. She agreed to be Patron of Hands Off Our Elephants and has been a central figure in the campaign ever since.

Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has been behind us all the way, as have US and British ambassadors Bob Godec and Christian Turner. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has convened meetings to create awareness of the problem amongst all Kenya-based diplomats.

 US Ambassador Robert Godec with school children from Nairobi on a visit to Amboseli National Park. World Elephant Day, 12 August 2015
US Ambassador Robert Godec with school children from Nairobi on a visit to Amboseli National Park. World Elephant Day, 12 August 2015. Photograph: WildlifeDirect

5. Boots on the ground. One of President Kenyatta’s first acts was to announce additional funds to finance anti-poaching activities, allowing the recruitment of 577 more rangers. He created a specialised multi-agency anti-poaching unit and brought all law enforcement agencies together to tackle the ivory trafficking problem in a coordinated way.

As a result, poachers are more likely to be caught than ever before. But we knew that this would have no deterrent effect unless getting arrested led to some serious consequences. That’s why the next two success factors were key.

6. Strengthening the law. Wildlife law before 2013 treated poaching as a petty offence. Maximum penalties were derisory compared to the vast profits that were being made by organised wildlife crime. We lobbied with many other NGOs and citizen groups for a new Wildlife Act.

The new act finally came into force in January 2104, making poaching and ivory trafficking a serious crime in Kenya, on a par with gun running and drug trafficking. Penalties for wildlife crime in Kenya are now the harshest in the world, including life imprisonment in some cases.

7. Reforms to the criminal justice system. Our courtroom monitoring program had exposed major challenges in record keeping, evidence collection, and prosecutions. The handling of wildlife trials has been transformed through the creation of a specialised wildlife crime prosecution unit under the office of the Public Prosecutor, combined with new operating procedures and extensive training programmes for legal staff.

Being arrested for poaching or ivory trafficking in Kenya has become a big deal.

Measures of success

Summarising the results of my mid-term evaluation: Kenya has managed to turn around the poaching crisis in a remarkably short time. This is in large part thanks to the support of NGOs – large and small – working with the private sector, government, and the donor community. All Kenyans can be proud of this impressive achievement.

Maryanne Njoroge of the Cooperative Bank of Kenya with its newly adopted baby Elephant, 'Mbegu', at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Centre, during a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) day for bank staff organised by WildlifeDirect in October 2014. The bank donated 150,000 Kenyan Shillings to the campaign "Hands Off Our Elephants".
Maryanne Njoroge of the Cooperative Bank of Kenya with its newly adopted baby Elephant, ‘Mbegu’, at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Centre, during a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) day for bank staff organised by WildlifeDirect in October 2014. The bank donated 150,000 Kenyan Shillings to the campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants”. Photograph: WildlifeDirect

Several poachers have gone to jail for life, and many have been fined hundreds of thousands of US Dollars. Jailing of convicted poachers is up from 4 to 11%. Suspected traffickers have had their assets seized and bank accounts frozen, as the law on proceeds of organized crime can now be applied to wildlife crimes.

Poachers are giving up the trade because of the high likelihood of arrest, and the knowledge that it will lead to prosecution and a jail sentence. This is reflected in the dramatic decline in poaching: the ‘bottom line’ that is the most important indicator of the success of our campaign.

Perhaps most importantly, for the first time in Kenya’s its history, Kenya is prosecuting major ivory traffickers. One of the most notorious suspected traffickers, Feisal Mohamed Ali, was arrested with the support of Interpol following the seizure of huge haul of ivory in Mombasa. He has remained behind bars to face trial since December 2014.

Newspaper advert placed by WildlifeDirect in Kenyan dailies following an announcement by Interpol that Feisal Mohamed Ali was on its 'most wanted' list for wildlife crimes.
Newspaper advert placed by WildlifeDirect in Kenyan dailies following an announcement by Interpol that Feisal Mohamed Ali was on its ‘most wanted’ list for wildlife crimes. Photograph: WildlifeDirect

The continuing threat

While Kenya can celebrate success today, we cannot be complacent. Just next door in Tanzania thousands of elephants are being gunned down annually and their population has been reduced by over 60 percent in just 5 years. Meanwhile in South Africa, over a thousand rhinos are murdered for their horns each year.

These killing fields will expand back into Kenya without concerted international efforts to reduce demand for ivory and rhino horn.

In Kenya, several factors threaten the sustainability of our successes. By far the most serious of these is the pervasive corruption that disfigures Kenyan society. It seems that corruption is rarely out of the news these days: it threatens the democracy that is bedrock of all our achievements so far.

The power of corrupt money is undoubtedly the reason why, in contrast to the harsh sentences imposed on poachers – the small fry – and despite the arrest of Feisal Mohamed Ali, no trafficker has yet been convicted and sent to jail under the new law.

The way forward

Children making model elephants at an event organised by "Hands Off Our Elephants". The campaign works to ensure that elephants will be part of these children's future, and their children's.
Children making model elephants at an event organised by “Hands Off Our Elephants”. The campaign works to ensure that elephants will be part of these children’s future, and their children’s. Photograph: WildlifeDirect

So what comes next? Hands Off Our Elephants will continue to expand its operations in Kenya while coordinating with partners across Africa to replicate our efforts in neighbouring countries. The campaign will focus on key new demands, including:

  • Corruption should be included among the named charges for wildlife offenders and in cases where police and customs officers, and other government officials are involved.
  • Existing high level cases should be brought to a rapid conclusion. Every delay increases the opportunities for evidence to be ‘lost’ and witnesses to ‘disappear’.
  • The must be an end the practice of deporting foreign nationals arrested for ivory trafficking. They should be tried in Kenyan courts. Traffickers should know that if they are caught with ivory at a Kenyan port or airport they can expect to spend the rest of their lives in a Kenya jail.
  • Visitors to Kenya and those in transit must be made aware of the new law and the penalties for poaching in order to reduce demand.
  • Kenya’s must destroy its entire ivory stockpile as a signal to the world that no Kenyan ivory will ever again enter into legal or illegal markets.

Above all, there is a need to strengthen accountability by giving civil society a permanent role in monitoring living and dead animals, seizures of illegal wildlife products, and the government’s response to wildlife crime.

The good news is that the foundations for this have been laid by the campaign itself, which has given rise to unprecedented levels of collaboration between government and civil society.

In recognition of the key importance of civil society organisations for wildlife conservation, NGOs have recently come together to form the “Conservation Alliance of Kenya”, a permanent stakeholder forum which will advise government on environmental issues. One of the key thematic groups that has been set up will address wildlife crime.

Thus democracy is not only the rock on which we build our campaigns. The campaigns themselves are an integral part of wider efforts to strengthen democracy.

Our African-led initiative to save elephants and wildlife is driven by a wider vision of an inclusive, prosperous African future; an Africa with effective governance and a vibrant civil society, and proud of its rich natural and cultural heritage.

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Wildlife Warriors OST Report

The Wildlife Warriors event at Brookhouse School attracted nearly twice as many people as we expected. Though we
targeted young people from Nairobi, grandparents, teachers, and many grown ups from all corners of the country
including expatriates came. This revealed a surprising level of interest in citizen participation. It also confirmed that young people feel that their
views about wildlife conservation are as important as those of adults. Hundreds of recommendations about creating a
generation of Wildlife Warriors were generated which revealed some general findings.

We are pleased to finally release the report of the first ever Open Space Technology event to be held in Nairobi. We apologize for the delay in getting this report out to the public and welcome comments on it. Please find the soft copy version of the report here

brochure to mail (3) (1) (1)


Kenya's First Lady at the Launch of the Womens Project in Imbirikani

Kenya’s First Lady at the Launch of the Womens Project in Imbirikani



Her Excellency, Margaret Kenyatta, The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya’s speech at the launch event on Friday.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just over a year ago, we announced our intention to start a project here aimed at women’s empowerment and elephant conservation, in collaboration with Helen Clark the Administrator of UNDP.

I am delighted to return here today to witness the official launch of this project which remains very close to my heart. Although Helen Clark could not be here with us today, I am sure that she is with us in spirit.

In 2013, I joined WildlifeDirect as the patron of the Hands off Our Elephants Campaign.

The campaign has made great strides in raising public awareness and mobilizing support for the protection of our elephants:
And has successfully used the Amboseli National Park as a showcase of excellent conservation partnerships between host communities, government, scientists, NGO’s and international partners.

The stakeholders have closely worked together to protect the worlds’ most famous elephants and I wish to thank all of you, for playing such an important role in that effort.

To save the elephants, we need the support of the host communities who live with them. They are the most important and first line of defence for these treasured animals.

Women are known to play an important role when it comes to conservation issues world over. Which is why we are investing in women projects in this region, because we can count on you to protect our elephants. Women are never known to kill the elephants.

In this regard, we already have wonderful role models right here, two Maasai sisters, Katito and Soila Sayialel who are amongst the world’s most famous experts on elephants; they are both Maasai women from this community!

I thank you both for your dedication and contribution which has made this community so important for the future of our elephants.

Elephants, are truly magnificent to visiting tourists, but can also be a terrifying threat for individual families and farmers.
I thank the UNDP for making it possible for us to turn this challenge into an opportunity for women, their families, their communities, and for Kenya.

I am also grateful that the women of Imbirikani have accepted the challenge to pilot this ambitious idea, of turning challenges into opportunities.

They have worked so hard on this project despite all the difficulties they face on a daily basis – fetching firewood, collecting water, herding livestock, managing their homes, their children and families.

For our women to effectively play their rightful role in conservation matters, it calls for their empowerment through education; additional investments in women projects and eradication of retrogressive cultural practices that limit their opportunities and possibilities.

As a country, we must realize that the absence of women in our economy, especially in rural areas, is holding back our development and our ability to achieve our aspirations to be a wealthy nation.

This project is a boost for those women who want to do business and it launch marks the beginning of a major opportunity for Amboseli.

I request the County Government of Kajiado through the governor, Dr. David Nkedienye, to support the women and facilitate the marketing of the products from this group; improve their health care and also focus on improving the schools to ensure the girls get quality education.

I am truly humbled to have played a role in this exciting project and I am very grateful to all those who have partnered with us especially Big Life Foundation who have been in Amboseli for over thirty years.

I am especially grateful to you, the women involved in this project for your courage and determination to make this project succeed.

It is now my pleasure to declare the Imbirikani Women Group Project officially open.

WLD Project Officer Robert Kaai shows the First Lady the products made by the women

WLD Project Officer Robert Kaai shows the First Lady the products made by the women



Maasai Moran on the catwalk...display of beadwork

Maasai Moran on the catwalk…display of beadwork


Maasai woman displays traditional maasai beadwork

Maasai woman displays traditional maasai beadwork



Cabinet Minister flags off the March

Cabinet Minister flags off the March

It was an outstanding event that really showed the world that Kenya is a country of wildlife lovers. The atmosphere was celebratory, there  were rangers, students, corporates, bikers, cyclists, roller bladers, vuvuzelas, Kenyan flags, placards reading “Fight Back” and “I am Justice for Wildlife, Are You?”.  Marchers of all ages and backgrounds participated including 4 year old Seya who celebrated her birthday by bringing her friends to the march and made a donation of 75 thousand towards 175 children going into Nairobi Park today (curtis of KWS). Representatives of several embassies were present including the Ambassador of Belgium Roxane de Bilderling and Bob Godec of USA.
Bikers leading the March

Bikers leading the March

child on bike
The Cabinet Secretary Prof Judi Wakhungu walked the entire 14 km which was the longest Global March  (it took place in over 150 cities around the world). The Kenyan marchwas also the biggest in terms of participation.  This year our theme was Justice for Wildlife and Judge Nzioki wa Makau made a speech on behalf of the Chief Justice in which he committed to strengthening the judicial response to wildlife crime.
Justice for Wildlife

Justice for Wildlife



Prof. Wakhungu also spoke about redoubling efforts to work in cooperation with all stakeholders, and neighbouring countries. She was applauded for the results already achieved in Kenya, and reminded Kenyans that we could not be complacent. Just across the border 30 elephants are dying each day in Tanzania. We stand to lose too much if we do not stop the poachers.  She promised that Kenya will be taking some very strong positions at the upcoming CITES conference in South Africa next year to return all elephants to Appendix 1.
She applauded the US and Chinese governments for recent announcements to end domestic trade in ivory.
Roxane murgor godec paula roxane
US Ambassador Bob Godec spoke on behalf of the donor group and applauded Kenya’s efforts and committed to further support.
Peter Moll of Stand Up Shout Out spoke about the powerful role of the youth. Speaking for all NGO’s.  In my speech I congratulated the government for the successes achieved in the last 12 months which has seen poaching drop to very low levels, and suspected traffickers being prosecuted for the first time. I welcomed the cooperation between state and NGO’s and invited all participants to volunteer with the NGO’s and government to get more involved in conservation. She thanked the Nation Media Group for screening wildlife documentaries as an important contribution towards creating awareness and love for our heritage.
The speech that stole the crowd was 12 year old Luca Berardi, youth Ambassador of WildlifeDirect, who sent a powerful message to Asians “You don’t need ivory or rhino horn to prove your wealth, there are millions of other things that you can put on your mantle piece”.
Entertainments included a number of super performances and one dance that got us all off our seats feeling very happy.
The Global March in Nairobi was organized by WildlifeDirect, Stand Up Shout Out and KWS.
Photos courtesy of Megapixels


Speech by 12 yr old at the Global March for Elephants & Rhinos, Nairobi – 2015


12 yr old Luca

Good Afternoon Hon. Cabinet Secretary, Ambassadors, Ladies & Gentlemen.

My name is Luca Berardi, I am 12 years old and I am the CEO & Founder of the YARH organization, which creates awareness for endangered species through workshops and networking with schools about the importance of wildlife conservation. Also, through paper-recycling projects that help us to save trees.

For many years, illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking has been declining the populations of elephants and rhinos resulting in massive biodiversity loss in Kenya and other parts of Africa. Rhino horn and elephant tusks are the main target for the poachers because of the high value in the illegal market throughout the world. As I stand here, representing the youth, most are unaware of the problems the wildlife faces. We need to educate young people on the importance of protecting our wildlife.

To you, Hon. Cabinet Secretary, Judi Wakhungu, we are encouraged with all your efforts. Just the day before yesterday, you were in NY together  with the leaders of the world passing the key sustainable  goals that we need to meet by the coming years. But, I would like to tell everyone present here today, let us not wait, lets start conserving our wildlife today, for if we wait for the year 2030, we shall have lost them all…..

And to you Sir, Chief Justice, please help us win this war to provide justice for al the families of innocent elephants and rhinos that have died in the hands of these poachers.

And to the World, from my heart to yours, please, you don’t need an elephant tusk hanging over your furnace as a trophy, or a couple of rhino horns as your centrepieces. There are over a million/million ways to showcase your wealth.

KWS and all Partners here today, thank you for all the work you are doing in protecting these vulnerable animals from extinction. I am encouraged to learn about your partnership with WWF in the implementation of the black rhino conservation, Rhino sanctuary in Tsavo and the Forensic Lab. This is good news for us all and our Chief Justice.

I Quote: Wildlife: Save it to Cherish or Leave it to Perish!!



Good Things Happening at WildlifeDirect

During the month of October, WildlifeDirect is embarking on a new adventure.

We have teamed up with Ol Tukai Lodge in Amboseli, Sunworld Safaris, Kenya Wildlife Services

We will be sharing more information on the work we will be doing in 2016 soon. Meanwhile, you can start guessing what the adventure will be.

We are priviledged to have excellent partners:

Kenya Wildlife Service has granted us access to the Amboseli National Park; Ol Tukai Lodge offered full board accommodation; Sunworld Safaris graciously donated the use of an excellent vehicle during this exercise and Two amazing women, Usha Harish, an exceptional photographer and Soila Saiyalel – an excellent Elephant expert have spent hours photographing elephant families in the park.

We look forward to seeing what they have gathered soon

Vehicle donated by Sun World Safaris

Vehicle donated by Sun World Safaris


Selfie with the Elephants?

Selfie with the Elephants?


With the Staff of Ol Tukai Lodge and Elephants in the background

With the Staff of Ol Tukai Lodge and Elephants in the background


Usha & Soila with the Staff of Ol Tukai Lodge outside the Lodge

Usha & Soila with the Staff of Ol Tukai Lodge outside the Lodge


Soila doing what she does best - Observing and Identifying Elephants

Soila doing what she does best – Observing and Identifying Elephants


We wish to thank all our partners below for their immense support! Asante Sana!!

KWS_LOGO                 MENWAR Logo

STE logo           awf-logo-web                  big-life-foundation-logo




DSWT       FrHorizLogo5           UNDP logo



Whitley Fund         KWCA Logo              JTI Logo              Judiciary Logo


Nature Kenya Logo   Elephant Voices logo





ACC Logo               Freeland Logo                 C4 logo



ANAW Logo              EAWLS Logo              Tsavo Trust                        Space for Giants Logo             Tusk Logo                   Rhino Ark Logo               Gallman logo            ZSL Logo Ol Tukai Logo



Coulson Logo     ARM Logo



The Perfect World Logo      Brookhouse logo    Banda School

Coop bank logo                 KQ       Safarilink Logo


Amarula Logo     Nakumatt



11149361_948437908524042_275060798629842193_n               Galleria

Warlords of Ivory on NTV Kenya Tonight!!!!

Dead Elephant found in Kenya

Dead Elephant found in Kenya

21 year old elephant speared in Tanzania was found dead in Kenya. How Ivory funds Terror

Tune in tonight at 10pm (local time) to NTV Kenya to watch Warlords of Ivory.

Dr. Paula Kahumbu will be on the panel discussing these issues



WildlifeTracks: Our pick of main activities for July 2015

Dr. Kahumbu discusses elephant conservation with U.S President Barack Obama


WildlifeDirect CEO during the Kenya Civil Society meeeting with US President Barack Obama (Credit:White House)

WildlifeDirect CEO Dr.Paula Kahumbu was among the members of the Kenya Civil Society who met the U.S President Barack Obama during his Kenyan visit. The meeting, which was held at the Kenyatta University, brought together members of civil society to address critical issues affecting the country. Dr. Kahumbu spoke on wildlife crime.

‘’I started the Hands Off Our Elephants under my organization WildlifeDirect together with the Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta to empower and mobilize Kenyans and Africans to conserve African Elephants’’ Dr. Paula told the President.

‘’Our work has changed the hearts and minds of Kenyans and also the laws. We have been at the centre of judicial reforms in this country’’

She asked President Obama to invite the American people to help by saying “No” to buying ivory and ivory products. She also requested the American government to take the lead by pursuing wildlife crime with the same vigor as drugs traffickers, and by strengthening their mutual legal assistance role in demand source and transit countries.

Watch the meeting here.

WildlifeDirect and UNDP hold project inception meeting in Amboseli


Project inception meeting in Amboseli

This Month, we initiated a new community enterprise project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in collaboration with Her Excellency, Margaret Kenyatta, The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya in Imbirikani, Amboseli. The project inception meeting held at the Big Life Foundation center brought together over 100 women and representatives from UNDP and the community leaders.

We seek to empower Maasai women by developing business ideas that are linked to the sustainable use of natural resources. Robert Kaai is managing the project.

Creating a Generation of Wildlife Warriors event


Creating a generation of Wildlife Warriors event was a unique opportunity to discuss and document ideas on how young people of Kenya can become leaders, champions and defenders of our wildlife heritage

On 4th July, WildlifeDirect hosted Wildlife Warriors at Brookhouse School which attracted people from many sectors and corners of the country to discuss the role of young people in conservation using Open Space Technology. More than 300 people attended ranging from diplomats, scientists, rangers, university and primary school students and children from slums, and officials from counties.

It was a unique opportunity to discuss and document ideas on how young people of Kenya can become leaders, champions and defenders of our wildlife heritage.

Watch our video here.

WildlifeDirect taking part in the inventory of Kenya elephant ivory and rhino horn stockpile


Environment Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judi Wakhungu inspecting the ivory during the Commissioning of the inventory exercise of elephant and rhino horn stockpile

WildlifeDirect was proud to officially partner with the government in the first ever digital inventory of elephant ivory and rhino horn in the country commissioned by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The Stocktake involved a number of organizations including Stop Ivory and Save the Elephants. Due to the sensitive nature of the work we cannot provide further information until the full official report is distributed.

KWS, Kenya Land Commission and Kenya Railways sign deal for Standard Gauge Railway to pass through the Nairobi National Park


The railway will be elevated for 1 km across the 9 km length in the park. This will allow animals to pass underneath it and no land will be lost from the park

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Land Commission (KLC) and the Kenya Railways this month signed a an agreement to allow the new Standard Gauge Railway to pass through the northern edge of the Nairobi National Park.

The railway will be elevated for 1 km across the 9 km length in the park. This will allow animals to pass underneath it and no land will be lost from the park. The KWS Chairman Dr. Richard Leakey, reassured WildlifeDirect that no part of the Nairobi National Park will be reduced contrary to the previous reports in the media which had indicated that several acres would be degazetted for the new railway. WildlifeDirect had launched a petition to stop the railway from encroaching on the National Park.



WildlifeDirect’s Jim Karani wins scholarship to study animal law at Lewis and Clark


WildifeDirect’s Jim Karani and Natasha Dolezal when he received the scholarship

WildlifeDirect’s Legal Assistant Jim Karani has won a scholarship to study Animal Law at the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS), at the Lewis & Clark Law School in the United States.

On completion, he will be the first African attorney with an advanced degree in animal law.
Congratulations to him. Jim leaves for USA at the end of August.

Dr. Jane Goodall Celebrates 55 Years of Pioneering Research with Wild Chimpanzees


Dr.Paula Kahumbu joind Dr. Jane Goodall in cutting a cake to celebrate 55 years of pioneering research with chimpanzees at Gombe National park in Tanzania.

On July 14, 2015 WildlifeDirect CEO Paula Kahumbu joined Dr. Jane Goodall as she celebrated 55 years of pioneering research with chimpanzees at Gombe National park in Tanzania.

Platinum Dancers perform anti-poaching play


Platinum Dancers

Known for winning one of the biggest regional dance shows in East Africa, Sakata, Platinum dancers from Kibera performed an anti-poaching play in the SPA completion, a Christian dancing competition.

Branded in Hands Off Our Elephants T-Shirts, the group won the second round and will be performing in the finals in August. They danced to Tusimame, an elephant anthem composed by four African artists including Emmanuel Jal, Syssi Mananga, Juliani and Venessa Mdee. This is part of Jal’s “We Want Peace Initiative”

Watch them perform the anti-poaching play here

Eyes In The Courts

‘This month our legal team has been following up on the long awaited trial of suspected ivory kingpin Feisal Mohamed Ali which started the 9th of July 2015. Feisal Mohamed Ali and five others are accused of possession of ivory contrary to the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act of 2013. Feisal’s bond application at the high court was denied and the court ruled that he should attend his trail while in custody unlike his co-accused. The main trial will start on the 17th of August 2015 for 3 consecutive days at the Mombasa law courts. If convicted, Feisal faces up life imprisonment or a fine of not less than 20 million shillings.

Eyes in the court room project is also following two huge seizures of ivory from Kenya in Singapore and Thailand earlier this year. The seizures led to the uncovering of a cartel the Mombasa port and consequently several employees of Kenya Ports Authority are facing charges in relation to the seizures.