Monday, 29 December 2014

Wildlife poaching has a huge impact on Africa, but our leaders are silent

The illegal ivory trade feeds terrorism and drains Africa of some of its greatest assets. Why aren’t politicians more outspoken about protecting elephants?

Tuesday 23 December 2014 09.00 GMT

Why are African leaders silent on wildlife crime? Every day in Africa nearly 100 elephants are killed for their ivory. But African leaders seem oblivious to the implications of the plunder. I am embarrassed, as an African, by their silence. The cries and shouts to bring attention to this unfolding tragedy are from prominent westerners such as Prince William andHillary Clinton, not from our own leaders.

Reports from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cities) show that 80% of ivory seizures occur in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, my country. The amount of illegal ivory in Kenya, mostly en route to China, has come as a surprise to many Kenyans, who were for decades fed the narrative of a wildlife-friendly country with zero tolerance for offenders.

Earlier this year, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon stated that “the environmental, economic and social consequences of wildlife crime are profound”. He emphasised that it threatens peace and security in a number of countries where organised crime, insurgency and terrorism are often closely linked. This should be more directly understood in Kenya, where hundreds have died in attacks like the one in Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

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