President of Kenya: Please Declare Poaching a National Disaster
Kenya is on the brink of losing a significant source of its economic lifeline and national heritage and we desperately need your help and continued support if we are to avert it.
It is no secret that Kenya relies heavily on wildlife tourism for economic prosperity; and just as the Egyptians have the pyramids, our national heritage is our wildlife. Besides generating the biggest segment of the annual turnover of Ksh98 billion we get from tourism, wildlife-based tourism is so linked to our economic growth that together with beach tourism, it was identified as one of the six priority sectors in Kenya Vision 2030, the country’s blue-print for long-term development. Further, most tourists come to Kenya with hopes of spotting the “Big 5” –Lion, buffalo, Leopard, Rhino and Elephant.
Unfortunately, we stand to lose this National Heritage if we do not stop, once and for all, the unprecedented, senseless and wanton killing of wild animals –and particularly elephants and rhinos that are targeted for ivory and horn, respectively.
It is now official that in 2012 we lost as many as 384 elephants and 29 of the few remaining rhinos and in 2013 we lost 302 elephants and 59 rhinos. Already this year the death toll stands at 18 rhinos and 15 elephants poached at least. Sadly, the actual numbers of deaths are probably higher as many of the killings go unreported. While poaching is in it-self a brutal crime, it also has far reaching effects on the environment and the economy. If 2 of the Big-5 become extinct, the country’s tourism industry will be severely affected and as a result, jobs for the tens of thousands of Kenyans will be no more. This in turn will have a seriously negative impact on Kenya’s economic growth.
Clearly the time has come where we all need to act decisively, swiftly and consistently to put a halt to this. We need to do this now (and not any other time) because the alternative – a world without our national heritage - does not even bear thinking.