Protecting Kenyan Nature Defenders
October 31st, 2021
According to Global Witness, an average of four environmental defenders are killed every week and Kenyans are feeling this deeply. On 15th July 2021, a well known Kenyan environmental defender, Joannah Stutchbury, was gunned down by assailants as she returned home from grocery shopping. WildlifeDirect with members of the Conservation Alliance of Kenya have been pursuing this case in the Kenyan parliament seeking the arrest of the perpetrators, revoking the titles of grabbed land, and restoring the forest. Our efforts seemed futile at first, but they have not been in vain.
On 26th October 2021, the Cabinet Secretary of Environment and Forestry, Hon. Keriako Tobiko exposed the names of grabbers of Kiambu Forest – these are the people who Joannah fought against and who probably killed her for it. A Kenyan member of parliament has been named as a person of interest in the case here. We have visited the site with fellow environmental defenders to plan a memorial tree planting and restoration of the entire forest with members of parliament and the Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Keriako Tobiko. We hope you will support this initiative.
We are sad to report that Joannah is not the only victim of attacks on environmental defenders. In August, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Company Commander Bajila Obed Kofa, was murdered along the Meru – Nanyuki road. He was responsible for rhino security at Solio Ranch. His colleague, also a KWS officer, Mr Francis Isaac Awuor Oyaro, was removed from a bus and has not been seen since. Former WildlifeDirect Kenya Board Trustee, Irungu Houghton highlights the emerging threats to environmental defenders in the Standard Newspaper here. WildlifeDirect’s justice desk has been busy responding to these and many other environmental justice cases in the country.