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Nyamu advocates for wildlife conservation

Residents of Eldama Ravine in Baringo County and its environs were sensitised on Thursday on wildlife and environment conservation courtesy of Justus Nyamu’s Walk on Wildlife Conservation campaign.

The renowned conservationist and founder of Elephant Neighbours Centre, Jim Justus Nyamu, made a stopover on his 130-day walk in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation.

The walk that began in Nairobi arrived in Eldama Ravine Thursday and was flagged off by Eldama Ravine Assistant County Commissioner Lilly Masai for a 23-kilometre section to Maji Mazuri and Timboroa after a courtesy call to the Deputy County Commissioner’s office.

They marched to Eldama Ravine Market, where Nyamu, Masai, and Deputy County Warden of Baringo County, Jeniffer Putunoi, made a clarion call for conservation.

Nyamu said he resigned from KWS to lead a campaign on elephant conservation, noting with sadness how the country has continued to lose the elephant population from 200,000 in the 1970s to the current 35,000.

“I have been walking from Nairobi so as to fight for the rights of the elephant and other wild animals. I am sure most of you here have not seen a rhino; we only have 1,300 under tight security by our officers because they are being poached. That’s why I have put my patriotism first to defend them,” said Nyamu.

He said Africans were born conservationists, going by their close cultural ties with wild animals, and they should embrace them as they bring wealth through tourism.

“It is sad that we have lost some of the rarest species like the Nandi bear and sitatunga, which were only found in Nandi due to poaching,” lamented the conservationist.

He lauded the Lembus council of elders, who he said had vowed to curse those destroying the forest resources even as the Kenya Forest Service strives to improve forest cover in the country through the supply of seedlings.

He called on the chiefs and the village elders to help raise tree seedlings to help the government achieve its goal of planting 15 billion trees.

Nyamu called on the residents not to interfere with the remains of property destroyed by the wild animals, saying it hampers compensation as the KWS relies on the remains to assess compensation.

He warned that penalties for poaching have been heightened, and perpetrators risk a fine of Sh20 million or life imprisonment.

“Koibatek Sub County has a huge percentage of forest cover, and the communities living adjacent to the forests should protect their natural heritage. This is through sustainable agriculture, green energy, and not encroaching on wildlife habitats,” urged Nyamu.

Nyamu educated the public on how they can live cohesively with the wildlife by not harming the animals in case of an invasion of their properties. Instead, report the matter to local authorities like the area chief or Kenya Wildlife Services, who will examine the harm for compensation.

Deputy County Warden of Baringo County, Jeniffer Kutumoi, emphasised the need for communities to work together in conserving wildlife. “Conservation is the backbone for the next generation, so we have to conserve our wildlife because that will be a source of employment for our children,” she said.

Ms. Masai urged residents to join hands in protecting the environment to conserve the animals. “We need to conserve our natural heritage for the sake of our future generations. Let us embrace sustainable practises that will ensure a healthy and prosperous environment,” she said.

The campaign ‘Ivory Belongs to Elephants’ is a joint effort by the Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya, East Africa Wildlife Society, and Elephant Neighbours Centre to combat elephant poaching.

The walk, which started from Nairobi, was flagged off by Peninah Malonza, CS Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, and the chief conservator of Forests.

It is hoped that the campaign will inspire a new conservation model that will promote sustainable practises and protect the environment for future generations.

By Christopher Kiprop

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