Wildlife Service) -- Kenya’s First
Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, has launched a ‘Rip off
Campaign’ at the iconic Ivory Burning Site in Nairobi National
Park to reaffirm Kenya’s position on ivory trade.
campaign is meant to focus attention on Kenya and other
like-minded countries’ opposition to international ivory trade
ahead of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference of
parties in Geneva, Switzerland from August 17 to 28.
The First Lady stated that Kenya will not relent on her
resolve to eradicate illegal wildlife trade and build coalitions
with partners to strengthen her joint actions to protect
Kenya has championed and petitioned for the closure of ivory
markets worldwide by lobbying for this agenda and publicly
disposing of her entire ivory stockpiles five times, since 1989.
These actions captured the world’s attention and inspired
ivory destruction in other countries, in addition to building a
strong case for listing of most populations of the African
elephant in the CITES Appendix I, which offers the highest
Mrs Kenyatta expressed concern that every past decision by
CITES parties to re-open the ivory trade has resulted in
increased elephant poaching and illicit trafficking of ivory.
This is exacerbated by Kenya being a key transit point in the
region, and unfortunately also for illegal trade of rhino horn,
pangolin scales, and ivory.
"Over 22 tons of ivory were seized globally from thousands of
poached elephants in the first quarter of this year, confirming
the existence of transnational crime," she said.
The First Lady applauded the commitment by China and many
European countries in supporting the call to close ivory
markets, saying that at a national level, Kenya has put in place
stronger surveillance around parks, built a robust law
enforcement mechanism and put in deterrent measures in sea and
air ports to fight poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
She noted that there are more rangers on the ground and an
elite anti-poaching force that has been created, as well as
training of specialist prosecutors, magistrates and judges, on
The First Lady said Kenya is the only country in Africa that
holds a digital database of all wildlife crime cases and
provides whistle-blowing platforms to augment law enforcement
She acknowledged threats posed by human-wildlife conflict and
the challenges of managing large elephant populations and urged
all African countries to work together as a continent to address
the challenges caused by the threats of climate change, as well
as find alternative, sustainable solutions to mitigate
human-wildlife conflicts which affect rural livelihoods.
Mrs. Kenyatta appealed to nations to reconsider the
disastrous effects of reopening the ivory trade as this would
destroy the gains made, and lay waste to the investments and
resources employed and the many lives of Conservation Heroes
lost in the line of stopping the killing of wildlife.
Kenya and her partners are lobbying and positioning for the
closure of all ivory markets, and boldly advocating for the
listing of all African elephant populations in Appendix I of
"Stop ivory trade because elephants and ivory belong
together," said The First Lady as she officially launched the
‘Rip off campaign’ to be rolled out throughout August.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Hon. Najib Balala
explained that Kenya is obligated to co-operate with other
parties and regulate international trade in the CITES-listed
species of wild fauna and flora.
He said that chief among the proposals to be submitted for
consideration during CITES Cop18 are:
Listing all populations of the African Elephant in
Implementation of aspects of the Resolution on the
Closure of Domestic Ivory Markets, and
Implementation of the Resolution on trade in elephant
"Thirty-seven African countries are range States for the
African Elephant and 32 of them have formed the African Elephant
Coalition (AEC) since 2007 to fight against ivory trade.
"These 32 countries share the common position of "No Trade in
Elephant Ivory,’’ and are committed to continued championing of
this position in CITES meetings until the African elephant is
secure across its ranges," he said.
This has informed the launch of a two-pronged awareness
promotion about the CITES CoP18 meeting, in partnership with
Kenya Airways and Kenya Airports Authority, to spearhead the
global fight against trade in ivory.
The ‘Ivory Trade is a Rip-Off’ promotion involves the
production of 400,000 limited edition keepers KQ boarding pass,
with a QR code which, once scanned, directs one to more
information on this campaign hosted on the Ministry of Tourism
and Wildlife website.
Kenya Wildlife Service Director General, Brig. (Rtd) John
Waweru explained the symbolism of the Ivory Burning Site to the
‘rip off campaign,’ saying that bold statements had previously
been made at the site which influenced international policies on
the conservation and management of endangered species of wild
flora and fauna.
"The burning of more than 12 tons of ivory in 1989 sent a
clear message that the ivory trade was decimating the world’s
elephant populations," he said
Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph said the company had
printed 400,000 special edition aircraft boarding passes to
emphasize that elephants and ivory should not be ripped apart,
adding his organisation practices a zero-tolerance policy on
illegal wildlife trade.
Others in attendance at the launch included the Ministry of
Tourism and Wildlife Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of
Tourism and Wildlife Joseph Boinnet, Tourism Principal Secretary
Joe Okudo, KWS Board of Trustees chairman, Dr. John Waithaka,
and conservation stakeholders.