Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions
By: Trish Sewe & Wilkister Adema
Nairobi-October 9, 2017: On a beautiful Saturday morning of October 7, thousands of marchers streamed in at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi to be part of a worldwide call to action to condemn the poaching of elephants, rhinos and the trafficking of wildlife trophies.
The Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions is a global movement, which calls upon governments, the civil society, grass root communities and all stakeholders to be proactive and collaborative in order to ensure the survival of elephants and rhinos. This year, the Marches were held in over 100 countries with the Nairobi March being hailed for mobilizing a large number of participants.
The March was officially flagged off by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu who was accompanied by Permanent Secretary Dr. Margaret Mwakima and the Kenya Wildlife Service Acting Director General Mr. Julius Kimani. While flagging off the March, Prof. Judi Wakhungu condemned poaching and trafficking of elephants and other wildlife. She further stated, “These are our natural heritage and should be protected at all costs”.
The conservation spirit filled the air as marchers hit the road adorned in colorful t-shirts, holding placards with key messages on saving lions, banning ivory and rhino horn trade and banners demanding for justice for wildlife. Some placards boldly stated: ARREST THE JEFWAS. Nicholas Mweri Jefwa, 40 years of age, and his brother Samuel Bakari 27 years of age are wanted for trafficking 6 tonnes of ivory. The ivory, which was stashed in bags of tea leaves left the port of Mombasa for Laos and Vietnam but were intercepted in Thailand and Singapore in April 2015 after the custom officials got a tip off.
People from all walks of life, including children and youth from across the country showed up in large numbers at this year’s Global March and despite the scorching heat, they walked for 15 kilometers to Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters.
At the KWS headquarters, the marchers were entertained by several upcoming artists and the KWS band.
The keynote speech by PS. Dr. Mwakima highlighted the success of the Nairobi March in creating awareness and demonstrating a peaceful coexistence between wildlife and humans.
Speeches from Jim Nyamu, Dr. Winnie Kiiru, Dr. Margaret Otieno, KWS Director Julius Kimani, WildlifeDirect Board Director Edward Muriu and Dr. Paula Kahumbu and resounded the importance of protecting Africa’s critically endangered species. The youth were represented by Peter Moll from Stand Up Shout Out and Tiassa Mutukei. “You will go to jail for life, & pay Kshs. 20 million, for ANY offence against elephants, rhinos, turtles, lions, leopards”, said Edward Muriu.
The colossal success of this year’s March is attributed to the leadership of WildlifeDirect in partnership with KWS and SUSO and for mobilizing 30 organizations to come together, raise money and support the initiative. We are extremely grateful to all the people who formed the organizing team for dedicating their time and attending weekly planning meetings in September to ensure that the event was a success. A big thank you to all our sponsors who helped us raise 2.7 million shillings in cash and in-kind towards the event budget. Thank you for your generosity.
Safaricom, the Kenya Police, Africa Nazarene University, Africa Network for Animal Welfare, African Wildlife Foundation, Born Free Foundation, Brookhouse School, County Government, East Africa Wildlife Society, Gamewatchers, Global March for Elephant, Rhinos and Lions, Kenya Wine Agencies, Lewa Wildlife Conservancies, Hospitality Consult Ltd, Mpala Research Centre , Nature Kenya, National Museums of Kenya, Safarilink, Save The Elephants, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vivo Energy Kenya, ZOO Dvur Kralove, Big Five Wildlife Conservation Ladies, Elephant Neighbors Centre, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association, Sarova Hotels, Safari Exposure Ltd, SUSO, WildlifeDirect and KWS.