Tag Archives: ‘big elephants’

UNDP partners with Kenya’s First Lady to combat poaching

25, 2014/in First Lady, News, Press /by PSCU



First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta with the Administrator UNDP, Ms. Helen Clark

First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta with the Administrator UNDP, Ms. Helen Clark

Nairobi June 25, 2014 (PSCU) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has entered into a partnership with the office of the First Lady Mrs Margaret Kenyatta on wildlife conservation and anti-poaching in the country.

Under the partnership, UNDP will sponsor the First Lady’s ‘Hands Off Our Elephants campaign’ to the tune of USD 100,000

UNDP will also scale up its support for wildlife conservation initiatives by communities and other stakeholders involved in the campaign to protect elephants and other endangered wildlife species in the country.

Speaking during the launch at State House Nairobi, UNDP Administrator Ms Helen Clark stressed the need for all stakeholders to collaborate in maintaining the global momentum of awareness campaigns, especially in countries where wildlife trophies are sourced and the consumers.

“UNDP will do all it can to combat poaching in Kenya and other parts of the world. As a result of the spirited campaign, there is international consensus on wildlife conservation,” she said.

The UNDP Administrator commended the First Lady for her efforts to conserve wildlife through her ‘Hands Off Our Elephants’ campaign, and pledged her continued support to the initiative.

The First Lady welcomed the UNDP’s support, saying that the battle on poaching and illegal wildlife trophies trade cannot be won by a single entity.

“We still need to get the poachers before they strike. We cannot win this battle alone. We should work hand in hand. We all stand to benefit when we conserve our heritage because we all have a stake in it”, she said.

She called for closer partnership with all stakeholders to strengthen advocacy for community, national and global solutions to combat wildlife poaching.

At the same time, the First Lady, called for the harmonization of regional wildlife conservation legislation to combat cross-border poaching and smuggling. She said the harmonization would deepen cooperation in the region, especially in jointly combating the ivory trade.

The First lady noted with appreciation that the ‘Hands Off Our Elephants’ campaign she launched last year to raise awareness on the poaching menace both in Kenya and on the global stage was bearing fruit.

“The campaign to end the menace of wildlife poaching especially elephants and rhinos is close to my heart as it is to all Kenyans,” the First Lady said.

As a result of the campaign, she added, an increase of illegal trophy seizures in Kenyan ports has been witnessed and for the first time more seizures have been made on the African continent than in Asia.

The First Lady said the campaign has brought together of communities to conserve wildlife.

However, she regretted the increased poaching of elephant and rhino.

She insisted that that Kenya was home to some of the world’s most beautiful flora and fauna, and that it was ‘our duty’ to conserve and share it with the rest of the world.

The First Lady said over 300,000 Kenyans were directly employed in the tourism sector with many more as indirect beneficiaries.
















V I C TO R Y!!!



The New York State Legislature stood up for elephants!
They passed a bill banning the sale and purchase of ivory and rhino horn.

We are so grateful to all of you for being a true coalition and supporting the efforts in New York with dedication and perseverance.

We look forward to working with you to make this a reality in all 50 states!

Kate Fitzgerald
Strategic Partnerships
96 Elephants
Wildlife Conservation Society

Ndovu + Music = Ndovu Music Contest

Juliani with Basilinga

Juliani with Basilinga

Article by Njambi Maingi

The month of June, heavily marked and highlighted on the Safaricom Calendar in the WildlifeDirect office in Nairobi, was a definite illustration of the numerous midyear activities planned out for the Hands off Our Elephants Campaign. None of them bigger than the biggest collaboration in Elephant Conservation this year!! What am I talking about,you ask?? The day Kenyan Music Celebrity Juliani and Dr Paula Kahumbu met over lunch at Art Café to discuss everything-Hands off Our Elephants. On this day the ground beneath the elephant poachers feet must have shook.
There is no denying that the best way to reach out to the masses when conveying a message is through the arts, especially through music. It is a powerful tool that easily seeps into our souls, tugging on our heartstrings for our minds and ears to listen. Music and Elephant Conservation were now united, brought together for a common cause, to sing to the world that the fight against poaching will not only be fought on the ground by armed rangers, but alternatively through the power of words and musical instruments in our studios.

With this new concept in mind ,PCI MEDIA Impact , an international leader in Behavior Change Communications, WildlifeDirect and local celebrity Juliani have joined forces to bring to a Kenyan and International Audience, the first ever Anti-Poaching Themed Music Contest, known as THE NDOVU MUSIC CONTEST(Ndovu being the Swahili word for Elephant). This contest will be for the young and old alike from all over the Country, to contribute to conservation through their creativity in song writing, where original elephant conservation songs are to be submitted online to www.ndovumusic.com. This contest intends to inspire the Kenyans to take action in the protection of Elephants and all wildlife, our heritage, through use of musical talents and more.

To commemorate the conception of this great initiative, the Hands off Our Elephants team, treated Juliani to an amazing one-on-one visit with the orphaned elephant calves at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. He got to experience firsthand, the lives of these victims of slaughter, that were rescued from the wild, abandoned for various reasons that include but not limited to human-elephant conflict and poaching which decimates herds of elephants around Kenya, leaving behind traumatized young elephants, uncared for.


At first, cautious of his movements around the calm elephants, Juliani quickly became acquainted, moving between individuals, playing with them, listening to their stories from the care givers(surrogate mothers), he was even comfortable enough to bump heads with a few of the older ones, taking in all their force and energy!

It was love at first sight, as some would put it. But this encounter made it ever more obvious to Juliani and the team, that the poaching scourge is a looming dark reality not only for the African Elephants but also for Kenya’s Economic Future.


East Africa: How Did Ivory Seized in Kenya Worth Sh4 billion Enter From Uganda?

The Independent
19 July 2013

When Kenyan customs officers on July 8 confiscated about 3,500kgs of elephant ivory alleged to have been smuggled into the country from Uganda, the ministry of Wildlife and related organisations in Kampala reacted with unusual quiet.

There was nothing of the usual quickly assembled briefings to journalists over an incident that has obviously put the country on the spot. Instead Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba and the Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director Andrew Seguya have, according to inside sources, opted to conduct a quiet internal investigation.

Among the lines being investigated is the assertion by Kenyan authorities that the ivory was from the so-called ‘big elephants’, which points to the Democratic Republic of Congo as the origin.

If the DR Congo was indeed the origin of the illicit cache, how did it clear through Uganda and end up in the Kenya port of Mombasa? Which officers, if any, on the Ugandan side were complicit in the smuggling racket?

There have been a series of ivory seizure in Kenya but the July 9 cache was the largest. The consignment was of some 770 pieces, hacked out of elephants.

Export documents showed that the ivory had come by vehicle from Uganda on 12 June.

The vehicle was then “parked” at a petrol station in Mombasa, until the consignment was brought into the port.

“The ivory was stashed in 69 bundles of several pieces and had been disguised as sun-dried fish,” said Paul Utodo, the Communications Manager of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

“Some bags had worked polished pieces of ivory, while others had raw ivory,” he added. Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Mbugua said the 3,287 kilogrammes of ivory were hidden in a shipment of groundnuts in Mombasa.

Some tusks were so big they weighed almost 60 Kgs which shows they were from really mature animals.

According to Mbugua, preliminary investigations by Kenya police point to the ivory being “packaged locally” in Kenya.

Earlier in July, another cache of ivory, weighing about 1,500kgs, was netted by Kenya police. It was hidden underneath dried fish to put the port sniffer dogs of the spoor. Both shipments were destined for Malaysia.

In January, KWS officials said that 3.8 tonnes of ivory were seized, also at Mombasa, apparently on transit from Tanzania to Indonesia. Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

On July 12, a court in Arusha, Tanzania, charged a businessman with smuggling more than 1000 elephant ivory tusks.

SelemaniIsanzu Chasema, in his 50s, is believed to have exported 781 tusks through Malawi in May according to the prosecution. He denied the charges.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years. Besides targeting rhinos, whole herds of elephants have been massacred for their ivory.

Inconclusive evidence

The illegal ivory trade, estimated to be worth between US$7 billion and US$10 billion a year, is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used in traditional medicine and to make ornaments.

The value of the ivory seized on July 9 has not yet been determined, Udoto said, but the two tonnes of ivory seized in January were estimated to be worth US$1 million.

On his recent three-nation visit to Africa in June ending July, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order launching a US$10 million bid to cut wildlife trafficking in Africa, with US$3 million in assistance earmarked for Kenya.

Akankwasah Barirega, the Prinicipal Wildlife Officer and acting spokesperson of the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, the government is still investigating the origin of the  ivory seized in Kenya.

He says the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) together with the Nairobi-based Lusaka Agreement Taskforce–a regional group charged with controlling and eliminating the illegal trade in wildlife products are spearheading the investigation.

“We haven’t got conclusive evidence but we suspect the ivory came from Congo [Democratic Republic],” Akankwasah told The Independent on July 13. Although, the intercepted ivory’s origin is said to be Uganda, Akankwasah said, it cannot be from Ugandan elephants because the sheer volume confiscated would mean that Uganda remained without any elephants.

“We have about 4000 elephants in Uganda,” he said, “We are quite sure this ivory is not from our elephants.” However, he said the government is doing everything possible to stop Uganda’s territory acting as a transit route for the illicit trade in wildlife products.

Akankwasah said that beside the recent establishment of an intelligence and investigation department at UWA, they have also beefed up their surveillance at the border points by working closely with the Uganda Revenue Authority.

He added that an amended Uganda Wildlife Act which is aimed at making the penalty of trading in wildlife products more punitive will soon be tabled before Parliament to tackle the problem which has re-emerged across the continent.

He said the recent interception of the two containers of ivory in Kenya is part of a wider continental syndicate that stretches from Nigeria, through the Central African Republic, Congo, way up to South Africa.

Akankwasah noted that although most African countries had contained the problem about 10-20 years ago, the vice had made a come-back mainly because of the proliferation of wars in Congo.

“Congo is the biggest driver of illicit trade in endangered species products like ivory,” he said.

Late last year, game rangers in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo alleged they had spotted a Ugandan military helicopter flying very low over the park, on an alleged unauthorised flight in an area where poachers had killed 22 elephants and carried off their treasured tusks.

In the most quoted report of the incident, from the U.S. newspaper The New York Times, the UPDF was portrayed with suspicion.

African Parks, the South Africa-based conservation organisation that manages Garamba, said it had photographs of the Ugandan military transport helicopter.

Then-Army and UPDF Spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye, told The Independent there was no evidence to prove the game rangers allegation.

Congo connection

He said it was not unusual for a UPDF chopper to fly over Garamba because that is the route the aircrafts of the Uganda army to Nzara and Obbo, where they are hunting the internationally wanted criminal warlord, Joseph Kony.

At the time, Ugandan media was awash with stories on the plight of elephants after the Uganda Wildlife Authority confirmed the September 2012 slaying by poachers of two elephants, including Baraka, a 40 year old male elephant believed to have been the oldest and most peaceful in Semliki wildlife reserve in western Uganda.

At the time, minister Mutagamba said a 2010 UWA large mammal census had revealed that the elephant numbers for Queen Elizabeth National Park had increased from 400 in 1988 to 2,959 in 2010. The minister praised the UPDF for supporting the Uganda Tourism Police to combat poaching.

In June 2012, 36 tusks were seized at the Entebbe airport in Uganda. Eighteen of the 22 elephants killed in Garamba in March were adults that had their ivory hacked out, which would usually mean 36 tusks.

Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, the Islamic rebel militia al-Shabab and Darfur’s Janjaweed, are all accused of hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem.

Organised crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, said a New York Times story that quoted law enforcement officials.

In 2011, the New York Times story said, poaching levels in Africa were at their highest since international monitors began keeping detailed records in 2002. It said worldwide, 38.8 tons (equaling the tusks from more than 4000 dead elephants), had been seized.

Uganda lost 25 elephants in 2011 and an investigations report by the Auditor General’s Office described the killings as the “worst ever reported scenario in a single conservation area, considering that Uganda was previously losing only 3 elephants annually.”

The smugglers are “Africa-based, Asian-run crime syndicates,” said Tom Milliken, director of the Elephant Trade Information System, an international ivory monitoring project, and “highly adaptive to law enforcement interventions, constantly changing trade routes and modus operandi.”

Conservationists say the mass kill-offs taking place across Africa may be as bad as, or worse than, those in the 1980s, when poachers killed more than half of Africa’s elephants before an international ban on the commercial ivory trade was put in place.

“We’re experiencing what is likely to be the greatest percentage loss of elephants in history,” said Richard G Ruggiero, an official with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Some experts say the survival of the species is at stake, especially when many members of the African security services entrusted with protecting the animals are currently killing them.