Kenya Airways has joined forces with Born Free to raise much needed funds for our wildlife conservation projects around the world through their Change Brings Change in-flight collection programme. The partnership was unveiled at the Nairobi National Park when Virginia McKenna O.B.E, Born Free’s Founder, and Kenya Airways' then CEO, Dr Titus Naikuni, (both seen here) signed a contract at the site of the famous ivory burn in Nairobi’s National Park.
Dr Titus Naikuni, said that the airline had entered the partnership to make a contribution towards the conservation of African wildlife. “With the threat facing wildlife, which is our heritage in Africa, it is important for the private sector to get more involved in stopping the vice,” he said.
The partnership comes in the wake of a surge in wildlife poaching across Africa with elephants and rhinos being among the worst hit.
Virginia McKenna said that it requires joint efforts from different players to mount a successful war against wildlife poaching. “The private sector in Africa should take a more critical role in preventing animal suffering and protecting the endangered species and we are delighted that Kenya Airways has chosen to do with us”.
To find out more about Kenya Airways and their services please visit their website www.kenya-airways.com
On Monday 4th November 2013 Kenya Airways launched their new ‘Change Brings Change’ initiative with Born Free at the World Travel Market in London’s ExCeL Centre. Kenya Airways intend to raise over £45,000 every month (over £540,000 annually) for Born Free through in-flight collections, based on current passenger traffic handled by the airline, with funds being channelled towards our conservation projects in Kenya and throughout Africa.
Wildlife remains one of Kenya’s greatest natural assets. Attracting tourists in droves, the country’s rich plant and animal life has earned Kenya billions of shillings in revenue, besides a top spot as one of the most irresistible tourist destinations in the world.
The tourism sector, which is founded on Kenya's natural wildlife endowment, contributes significantly to the country’s economy. In 2011, Kenya’s revenues from this sector alone stood at KSh98 billion (over a billion US dollars). This is a significant contribution in a country that raised KSh707.6 billion in taxes in the 2011/12 financial year.
The multiplier effect of the economic benefits of Kenya’s wildlife is huge, sustaining many hundreds of thousands of livelihoods, both directly and indirectly.
Thus, any threat to wildlife is an issue that cries out for the attention not only of the Kenyan people for whom it is an intrinsic aspect of their national heritage, but also the global community. The recent spike in wildlife poaching across the country, and which is believed to be driven by organized crime syndicates requires immediate action.
Over the last two years, poaching has accounted for at least half of the elephant deaths in Kenya. According to statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), about 240 elephants died at the hands of poachers in 2011. By the end of 2012 the annual total had risen to nearer 400. Compared to losses in other countries which run into thousands each year it is clear that Kenyan’s are fighting hard to protect their wildlife but the trend is evident.
While the total number of rhinos killed is small in comparison to elephants, the number of wild rhino in Kenya is much smaller with 600 black rhino and 365 white. The KWS figures indicate that 29 out of the 42 rhinos that died in 2011 were illegally killed. In 2012, thanks to even greater wildlife protection measures, of the 27 rhinos that died 19 were a result of poaching.
Across Africa, armed and increasingly sophisticated poachers present one of the most serious challenges to wildlife conservation today. They can also contribute to other forms of crime and local insecurity. Coupled with the effects of climate change, the fragmentation of wildlife habitat and increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict as a result of increasing human populations, this has made wildlife conservation a lot harder.
Recent trends indicate that not only have the number of poaching incidents gone up, aided by the proliferation of illegal firearms, the level of sophistication and technology deployed has also increased.
Thankfully, in Kenya at least, anti-poaching technologies have also advanced. Night vision equipment, hi-tec communications, air support and the deployment of tracker dogs means that poachers are finding it hard to stay one step ahead of the forces of law and order. Future anti-poaching opportunities may include the deployment of unmanned drones equipped with super-sensitive cameras. Another is virtually invisible, inexpensive, next-generation electronic animal tags that send text messages with critical information to rapid response ranger units.
But no wildlife law enforcement agency can overcome the challenges on its own. Now is the time for concerted efforts from each one of us if this barbaric crime is to be eliminated, our heritage safeguarded for the good of wildlife and the immense benefits it can deliver to be secured.
For starters, there is need for the introduction of wildlife studies and environmental protection in our formal education to inculcate an appreciation of the importance of wildlife by young Kenyans and students around the world. By arming school children from an early age with information on the critical roles that wildlife plays to our economy and natural processes we can help to ensure that they appreciate the need for conservation as they grow up and become our future leaders.
Our laws and institutions need to be strengthened so that they are in a position to support the life-saving activities of the rangers and wardens who lay their lives on the line in the cause of conservation. This includes the Wildlife Bill that intends to introduce, among other things, stringent penalties for wildlife-related offences that will serve as a deterrent to those tempted to illegally abuse and exploit wildlife for personal gain. The government should fast track the enactment of such progressive laws.
However, the task of conserving wildlife is not just the responsibility of KWS which is the government agency tasked with the responsibility of conserving and managing wildlife, nor can it be the responsibility of the citizens alone.
It is in recognition of the collective nature of this responsibility for protecting and conserving wildlife that national carrier Kenya Airways, the Pride of Africa, recently entered into a partnership with the Born Free Foundation to raise funds for the conservation of wildlife in Kenya, and across Africa, wherever wild animals are threatened.
Through this initiative, Kenya Airways intend to have inflight collections on all their aircraft, so that their customers can make donations towards effective wildlife protection. These funds, which can be donated in any currency and in any denomination, will then be channeled towards priority initiatives to conserve and protect wildlife. This is the kind of boost that KWS and other conservation organizations need to protect and conserve our extraordinary wildlife.
It is the responsibility of each one of us to contribute towards fighting poaching and other illegal activities that threaten our wildlife.