Tag Archives: First Lady

WildlifeDirect and UNDP hold project inception meeting in Amboseli

On Wednesday, WildlifeDirect initiated a new community enterprise project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in collaboration with the Her Excellency, The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in Imbirikani, Amboseli.

The project inception meeting was held at the Big Life foundation bringing together over 100 women from three different groups in the area and representatives from UNDP and the community.

The greater Amboseli landscape plays a major role in Kenya’s tourism industry, however its biodiversity particularly its magnificent its elephants is threatened by habitat degradation and issues of human-wildlife conflict and poaching. The communities in this area practice livestock farming and this is their major source of income. Both livelihoods, as currently practiced, are unsustainable, in terms of both natural resource degradation and the extent to which they conflict with the natural movements of wildlife, in particular, elephants are heavily persecuted due to the damages they inflict on crops.

Under this tremendous project, the women groups will be empowered and trained to come up with new ideas which will be funded by UNDP for a period of one year, in a community where men are considered leaders of household with women playing very little roles. This project proposes to empower the Maasai women to take control of their future and have the capacity to plan and implement their own income generating activities.  It will result in the development and marketing of three women’s enterprise utilizing existing groups in the Mbirikani conservancy that are linked to the sustainable use of natural resources.

There is an urgent need to diversify livelihoods in the communities away from both pastoralism and agriculture towards sustainable management of natural resources and other conservation- related activities, so that both wildlife and the communities may continue to co-exist in greater harmony and the ecosystem can be restored to health, providing critical ecosystem services, robust against climate change. This project will help identify potential markets for the women groups and also connect them with buyers for their products.

‘’We need to look at this project at a larger scale and give it the urgency it deserves, we want to make sure at the end of this one year we should have achieved our set goals’’, Paula Kahumbu, CEO WildlifeDirect, said.

‘’it is very important that we quickly agree on the project projects that we need to implement within the stipulated project time that will turn out to be profitable businesses and so I want to thank all the men and women who have come to support this women in this project’’

WildifeDirect will help the women groups in the implementation of the project under the leadership of Community Project Officer, Robert Kaai and Dr.Kahumbu promised to give the women groups enough to ensure the project is a success.

David Githaiga, Team Leader, Energy, environment and Climate Change, UNDP Kenya promised the women groups that UNDP is very much committed to the project, promising the funds for the project  are already available. He said the project is a very good initiative to empower women in this region and said the funds will be released in four quarters immediately after identifying the enterprise to invest in.


Women groups, WLD and UNDP staff after the meeting

Women groups, WLD and UNDP staff after the meeting

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

Focus on Illegal Ivory Trade in the U.S.A

The plight of African elephants is receiving global attention this week as four key events came together in USA; the Clinton Global Initiative on 26 September, the March for Elephants on 4 October (http://www.iworry.org/join-the-march-2/#.Ukl899KsjLQ), the sentencing of Victor Gordon a notorious American ivory trafficker on 7 October, and the crush of 6 tons of American ivory in Denver on 8 October

At the Clinton Global initiative on 26 September, 7 African Nations joined Hillary and Chelsea Clinton in a commitment to end the slaughter of elephants by banning domestic trade in ivory, stopping the killing of elephants, stopping the trafficking of ivory, and stopping the demand for ivory. The countries included Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi, and Uganda.

Richard Leakey, founder of WildlifeDirect and the man who is credited with saving elephants from extinction in 1989 by engineering the first ever and most iconic bonfire of ivory in 1989 said “I congratulate Senator Clinton for her actions and commitment and am all for each nation taking responsibility for saving one of the world’s most magnificent animals. I hope that the USA will follow these African nations and ban domestic trade in ivory in the USA and provide support for strategic African initiatives to save elephants and stop the poaching”.


Included in the commitment were several international conservation organizations including the  Kenyan organization WildlifeDirect represented by the CEO Paula Kahumbu. WildlifeDirect  has launched its own high profile campaign Hands Off Our Elephants spearheaded by Kenya’s First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta. She has called for a global ban on domestic trade. WildlifeDirect has been instrumental in changing and enforcing laws in Kenya and East Africa, by demanding more severe penalties. A study by WildlifeDirect reveals that fewer than 5 percent of convictions for wildlife crimes lead to jail sentences. Not surprisingly, suspected elephant killers and ivory traffickers plead guilty in order to hasten the case and gain a light sentence. Most cases last only 24 hours and most convictions result in a fine of 100-300 dollars. The laxity of the courts had been driving impunity and encouraging poaching, but now the magistrates are delivering jail sentences of 3 to 5 years.   Any time in jail is bad in Kenya, but WildlifeDirect says this is still not enough and is pushing for seizure of assets, prosecution under the Organized crime Act and Economic Crimes Act, and minimum jail sentences of 15 years in a proposed new legislation that is expected to pass in coming weeks.

On the heels of the much publicized Clinton Global Initiative commitments for elephants comes the Elephant March a campaign by the Kenyan based David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Millions of people are expected to participate on 4 October in cities around the world. This is one of the things that citizens around the world can do to demonstrate their concern about the elephant slaughter. 

On 8 October the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make an international statement by crushing six tons of elephant ivory seized by its special agents and wildlife inspectors for violations of U.S. wildlife laws (http://ens-newswire.com/2013/09/09/u-s-to-crush-six-tons-of-contraband-elephant-ivory/).

All this attention to elephants is well deserved. Ivory is leaving Africa at an unprecedented rate, part of a surge in poaching that could lead to the extinction of the elephant within 10 years if it is not halted. But it is not just about elephants, the illegal trade in ivory is fueling conflicts and terrorism including the deadly attacks on a shopping mall in Kenya, and the United States is not exempt from the problem.

Ivory seized in 2011

Ivory seized in 2011

Ironically ivory trade is permitted in the USA and while it involves mostly old pre-ban ivory, like the situation in China, the legal trade is being used as a cover for a significant amount of illegal trade. Indeed, although China is ranked as the top consumer of illegal ivory, the USA is considered the second largest market in the world.  

Indeed the ivory crush will include ivory items seized last year when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service working with New York state authorities seized more than $2 million worth of ivory from two New York City shops.  Dan Stiles writes in Swara Magazine report that New York and San Francisco “appear to be gateway cities for illegal ivory import in the USA….China is not the only culprit promoting elephant poaching through its illegal ivory markets. The USA is right there with them.”  

Attention then must be drawn to the case of a Philadelphia-based ivory smuggler, Victor Gordon, who was arrested in connection with one of the largest U.S. seizures of illegally imported ivory in July of 2011 (http://www.fws.gov/le/pdf/press-release-doj-gordon-pleads-guilty-smuggling-african-elephant.pdf). More than one ton of elephant ivory was seized.  He pleaded guilty on 27 September 2012 and faces up to 20 years in prison. His lawyer, Daniel-Paul Alva, told the Wall St. Journal his client has been cooperating with the investigation, and was “an innocent dupe.”  He has already managed to postpone his sentencing for over a year.  This would be unthinkable in Africa. The new date is Monday, 7 October at 11am. The US prosecuting attorney is Darren A. LaVerne, and the venue, the US Eastern District Court in Brooklyn, New York, 271 Cadman Plaza East. 



Dr. Kahumbu shares efforts to save Africa’s elephants

July 2, 2013 by  Jess Miller 

 Roxana Pop | Staff PhotographerPaula Kahumbu, the Nairobi-based executive director of WildlifeDirect and of the Kenya Land Conservation trust, lectures on “The Crisis Facing Elephants in Africa”  Tuesday morning in the Amphitheater.Roxana Pop | Staff Photographer

Paula Kahumbu, the Nairobi-based executive director of WildlifeDirect and of the Kenya Land Conservation trust, lectures on “The Crisis Facing Elephants in Africa” Tuesday morning in the Amphitheater.

When Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi set fire to 12 tons of illegal ivory in 1989, conservationists like Paula Kahumbu thought the end of elephant slaughter was in sight. And it was — until now.

Following that demonstration, poaching numbers dropped for nearly 20 years. But recently, worldwide demand for ivory has increased, which means that African elephants are in more danger of becoming extinct than ever before.

Kahumbu, the executive director of WildlifeDirect in Nairobi, Kenya, delivered Tuesday’s morning lecture in the Amphitheater, the second under the week’s theme of “The Next Greatest Generation.” WildlifeDirect works to save elephants and endangered species living in Kenya’s forests, savannas and plains.

“When we think of the next greatest generation, they are only going to be great because we make them great,” Kahumbu said. “As grownups, we inspire younger generations.”

When Kahumbu was young, she and her brother were outside playing when they spotted an animal they didn’t recognize in a fig tree.

A man drove by and rolled down his window.

“He asked us what we were doing, and we said, ‘There’s this amazing animal up in the tree!’ And the man was Richard Leakey,” Kahumbu said to applause.

Leakey gave Kahumbu and her brother a standing invitation to visit his house if they ever had any questions. (Leakey went on to found WildlifeDirect and persuade President Moi to burn the millions of dollars’ worth of ivory.)

“I spent my whole childhood catching everything that walked, crawled, flew, swam, and going to his house and asking him what it was,” she said.

After graduating from high school, Kahumbu wanted to be a park ranger. She went on to study biology and ecology, eventually earning her doctorate from Princeton University.

“I did my Ph.D. studying elephants because I thought that was going to be how I made a difference,” she said. “I was going to use science to make a difference.”

But she soon discovered that most government officials “don’t give a damn” about science.

“They don’t understand it,” she said.

Kahumbu decided to take elephant conservation efforts into her own hands. Even though elephants are one of the most-studied animals in the world, Kahumbu said that more fascinating details are uncovered with each new study. For example, scientists have learned that elephants can communicate by projecting sounds at frequencies too low for humans to hear. Their large ears can also identify sounds up to six miles away. And they can smell water from a distance of 12 miles or more.

In addition, scientists are interested in the striking similarities between humans and elephants. Elephants travel in family herds, staying together for life. They grieve over dead family members and will even return year after year to pay respects to the bones of their kin.

Poachers often kill the matriarch, the largest and the leader of the herd, leaving the rest of the family vulnerable. Six thousand years ago, there were 25 million elephants in Africa. Today, there are less than half a million.

As Kahumbu was speaking, she showed black and white images of mutilated elephants on the Amp’s projection screens. Since tusks recede into the elephant’s mouth to connect to a socket in the skull, poachers must kill the elephant and then cut into the animal’s mouth to extract all of the ivory.

Last year, poachers gunned down 30,000 elephants in Africa, Kahumbu said. This number is greater than the entire number of elephants in Kenya.

Behind the rise of the poaching industry is the economic rise of another country. In China, ivory is a luxury often used to carve religious figures and other luxury goods.

“While in Kenya, if you’re wealthy, you might buy a Mercedes-Benz,” Kahumbu said. “In China, what you’ll buy is ivory.”

Kahumbu asked the audience to raise their hands to indicate whether they either owned ivory or knew someone who did. A large number raised their hands.

“Whether we like it or not, owning ivory makes us consciously or unconsciously a part of the demand,” she said. “And it’s the demand that is leading to the slaughter of the animals.”

Those at WildlifeDirect are trying to end animal poaching in three ways: by cracking down on crime, by eliminating ivory supply and demand and by creating awareness, engagement and mobilization.

The organization has recruited Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Kenyatta, as well as a number of Kenyan celebrities and sports stars. To show their support, the celebrities are wearing black armbands that read “H.O.O.E.,” which stands for “Hands Off Our Elephants.”

WildlifeDirect has also engaged communications companies, the tourism industry and major corporations.

“We’ve partnered with all the major media houses to do editorials every week about the carnage of that week,” Kahumbu said. “We’re going to be naming and shaming the [poachers] who get released with these small fines [instead of going to jail].”

The group plans on branding restaurant restrooms, grocery stores, cigarettes, beer, airplanes and highways to capture the attention of all passers-by.

“We want people to really wake up to what is happening,” she said. “As individuals, we have personal responsibility. We are each individually responsible for saving the world’s most magnificent species.”

The original link of this article is: http://chqdaily.com/2013/07/02/kahumbu-shares-efforts-to-save-africas-elephants