Conversations around #tweet4elephants

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On Tuesday,  the U.S. Embassy had a “Tweet4Elephants” event.

“The event is intended to address a growing crisis affecting Kenya and nations across Africa: the escalation in illegal wildlife trade that is threatening the very existence of elephants, rhinos, and other wildlife. Wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar illicit business that is decimating Africa’s iconic animal populations, threatening local populations, killing park rangers, and robbing local communities of their livelihoods and tourism revenues. Many species – most notably elephants and rhinoceroses – now face the risk of significant decline or even extinction. “ US Embassy – Kenya.

There were distinguished guests including the Ambassadors of UK, Sweden and Netherlands. Also there were conservationists, KWS bosses, artists and social media people.

Summary

Elephants have feelings. They love, they cry, they also experience pain and they remember. They suffer from post traumatic stress. They also have a high EQ.

• According to a research done on Elephants in 3 years 2010 – 2012 there were 100,000 Elephants killed. There are now only about 500,000 Elephants left. The tragedy is that the births are not keeping up.

• Elephants should be declared National treasures so that they are protected.

World Wildlife Day – 3rd march 2015. KWS wants to celebrate it as a festival from the 28th of February to 3rd March. It will be called the wild fest. There will be a naming ceremony of Elephants in Amboseli. They are going to invite the president to name an Elephant.

• Ivory sales are moved by demand. 4 years ago in 2010 a kilo was 750 dollars. Now it has tripled it, in 2014 it was worth 2010 dollars. There are financial rewards and incentives for ivory sales.

Elephants manage forests. They are part of the process of pollination among other things. If Elephants go then many species of trees and plants will perish because they depend on Elephants.

• The other biggest issue apart from poaching is lack of space for wildlife we are trying to protect. Right now the animals operate in pockets and the national parks are fenced; so how do we secure space?

Who is a poacher? The Chinese will not come to kill the rhino/Elephants. Somebody has facilitated it. There are people in the communities who are facilitating it.

• When the Elephants are killed there is uproar to the KWS. But we all have a duty to protect the animals not just KWS. We need to see that the heritage of Kenya is preserved for future generations.

We also watched an awesome video by Ted- Ed on why elephants never forget.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec, “We do this for the Elephants, but we do it for us. We find our humanity by saving and caring for them. What we do for others, help them in their need both people and animals is what makes us human. We must act now to save our elephants. It is not an African problem, it is a global problem.”

Elephants have the largest brain. They have a high EQ – high as a chimpanzee and similar for humans.

Paula Kahumbu said that the president should declare Elephants as national treasures.

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The Elephants know they are killing killed for their tusks. The Elephants are monitoring us more then we are monitoring them. They are just not dumb animals.

We need to find out more about Elephants before it is too late. They make extraordinary decisions about where they move to, many of them live outside the protected areas.

According to a research done on Elephants in 3 years 2010 – 2012 there were 100,000 Elephants killed. There are now only about 500,000 Elephants left. The tragedy is that the births are not keeping up.

In Northern Kenya the deaths of Elephants have slowed down. Births for the first time exceeded deaths.

Ivory sales are moved by demand. 4 years ago in 2010 a kilo was 750 dollars. Mow it has tripled it 2014 it was worth 2010 dollars.

Aly-Khan Satchu talked about how ivory is now the second most valuable community in the world. Business people are hoarding stocks so that they can increase in value. It is worth even more then gold. The financial rewards for having and hoarding ivory are high.

The challenge is how to lower demand for ivory so that people don’t use it as an investment.

Jeff Koinange talked about how Jomo Kenyatta made Ahmed a national treasure. He asked what we can do to put pressure on our president to make sure we have more protection for Elephants.

KWS says that the government is doing something. For the first time Wildlife is in the national security agenda. Wildlife is very important to Kenya. Poaching and selling of Rhino horns and Elephants tusks is linked to terrorism. In the last year 566 new additional rangers were hired. In 2015 there will be 600 rangers hired.

The US, UK and western nations were encouraged to be big brothers and talk to China. They can engage the prime minister to focus on the demand and create positive engagement with China.

China has banned ivory auctions but their borders are porous. Since China has legal auctions and ivory is sold with a certificate. But many traders do not sell the ivory with the certificate so that they can use it to sell the illegal ivory.

Chinese have burnt some ivory stockpiles and also the US. There are the issues surrounding destroying stockpiles.

Julius  Cheptei of KWS. KWS is fighting to minimize poaching. But there is also another big problem. Lack of space for wildlife we are trying to protect. Right now the animals operate in pockets and the national parks are fenced; so how do we secure space?

Also how to we bring the communities around to help stop poaching. In Amboseli – relationship was not there. There were laws and procedures but no goodwill from community. The relationship had to be created. Amboseli is 392 square kilometers. Without support from community conservation will be a nightmare. 70% of Elephants are outside the national park. The county governments are selling land. This leads to Elephants having less land to move around.

A big question is how we engage communities so that we create space for wildlife.

On World Wildlife Day – 3rd march 2015. KWS wants to celebrate it as a festival from the 28th of February to 3rd March. It will be called the wild fest. There will be a naming ceremony of Elephants in Amboseli. Invite the president to name an Elephant.

There is a management plan for wildlife developed by stakeholders and community. It has 5 programs. One of them community and education program. Community buys into the space, and wildlife are secured.

When the Elephants are killed there is uproar to the KWS. But we all have a duty to protect the animals not just KWS. We need to see that the heritage of Kenya is preserved for future generations.

There is need for advocacy to local communities and global communities on behalf of the Elephants. Funds to create awareness on the plight of the Elephant are needed and partners also.

In February here will be an Elephant specific conference. One of the strategies is working with partners and community towards a common purpose.

One of the things KWS is working on is to conserve buffer zones. It will be much more catastrophic to lose areas where Elephants move around. In TZ they have a budget for buying land for animals. In order to save Elephants for the future, it is important to reduce demand and appetite for ivory. There is also a need for advocacy on the issue. The angles to demand on ivory are what need to be worked on.

Things individuals and partners can do to help with Elephants.
• Attend and support the upcoming wild fest

• Supporting conservancies

• KWS getting enough resources to manage wildlife.

• Talking to people out there about Elephants. There was a suggestion that Jeff Koinange do show in Amboseli and also other people in the media to create awareness on Elephants.

• We need to have conversations about stockpiles of ivory. What is the way forward?

• We need to tell the story of Elephants. We should provide books to children that tell the story of Elephants. We should also have animations and films that tell the story of Elephants so that we show children the magic of Elephants.

• Sponsor art competitions in schools to draw Elephants and create a story.

• In Nairobi National Park there are no Elephants. You can only find the Elephants at David Sheldrick. The KWS should work with David Sheldrick to have open days for children to see the baby Elephants because it is too expensive for most children to see them at 500 Kenya Shillings per person.

• Working with mainstream media to create awareness on Elephants and their poaching.

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