Friday, 6 September 2013

Gonsalves: The Elephant Man walks

With apologies to Joseph Merrick, if you see the Elephant Man walking down Route 6A this week don't expect a freak show.

Not that Jim Justus Nyamu isn't looking for attention. He is — just not for himself.

For more information on the international effort to prevent ivory poaching, go to or visit the website of the International Fund for Animal Welfare at

Instead, the Kenyan conservation biologist hopes to raise awareness and spur anti-poaching legislation to protect an animal most of us have seen only in children's books, on television, under a circus tent or in a zoo.

On Wednesday afternoon, Nyamu set out from the headquarters of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouthport wearing his walking shoes and a T-shirt that read, "Ivory Belongs to Elephants."

It was the beginning of a 33-day, 544-mile trek to the nation's capital trumpeting the cause of the popular "keystone species" that also happens to be one of Africa's most prized tourist attractions.

The former Kenya Wildlife Service research assistant and founder of the Elephant Neighbors Center has successfully lobbied the Kenyan government to get tougher on ivory poachers in his native country. But, Nyamu said, he came to America to collaborate with IFAW because the United States is one of the biggest ivory markets in the world, second only to China.

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