Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

A Report On World Wildlife Day Celebrations

World Animal Day

March 3, 2017

By

Victor Mutumah & Linda Kimotho

INTRODUCTION

World Wildlife Day (WWD) is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. In addition, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.

Wildlife has an intrinsic value and contributes to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of sustainable development and human well-being.

2017 THEME: LISTENING TO THE YOUNG VOICES

Engaging and empowering the youth is the call of the 2017 UN World Wildlife Day. WWD 2017 gives us a new opportunity to provide incentives to the youth to tackle conservation issues. It is also an opportunity for them to engage with one another and together forge an inspired path to a better world.

Habitat loss, climate change and poaching are among the most alarming challenges faced by wildlife today. Wildlife poaching and trafficking is now the most immediate threat to many species, whether charismatic or less known.  The fate of the world’s wildlife will soon be in the hands of the next generation.  The pressing need for enhanced action to ensure the survival of wildlife in its natural habitats must be imparted from generation to generation, and the youth should have the opportunity to communicate the conservation goals to a wider society.

(Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/wildlifeday/ )

WWD IN MERU

To celebrate the Day, the Meru Conservation Area held an event at Galma Dido Primary School in Kinna, Isiolo County. The venue was strategically selected due to immense human-wildlife conflict in the area that has strained the relationship between the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Borana community. This was a mending fences opportunity to bring the community closer to the Park management and promote partnership in conservation efforts.  In attendance were dignitaries from the Isiolo County Government, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT).

Born Free, in partnership with KWS, played a key role in sponsoring and planning this year’s event.

Pre-Event Activities

Several visits and meetings were conducted at Kinna which involved Born Free and KWS. The aim was to share and spread the importance of WWD. Official invitations to the event were made to the community and schools. Attention was also focused on the host school to ensure smooth operations for the Day. Essay competitions focusing on this year’s theme, were done prior to the event. This was followed by a major outreach mission at Kinna Market, the night before the actual celebrations. Films on wildlife were screened and talks on conservation given by Born Free and KWS Education teams.

Procession

Dr Tuqa Jirmo, Senior Warden Meru, giving instructions before the procession
Dr Tuqa Jirmo, Senior Warden Meru, giving instructions before the procession
Victor leading the procession
Victor leading the procession

The Born Free team mounted a PA system on the Land Rover and proceeded to Kinna, driving around the market area welcoming the schools and communities to the function, with music being played, to grab the community’s attention and drive the message home. By 0930hrs, the community and schools had assembled at Kinna Market ready for the one and half kilometre procession to the venue. The procession was flagged off by the Assistant Director in charge of the Eastern Conservation Area Mr. Wilson Korir. Banners with the 2017 WWD theme were held high as the match progressed. Pupils, students, teachers and community members displayed placards with wildlife messages while other were singing and chanting out quotes on wildlife conservation such as “ our animals”, “no trees, no life “and  “ivory belongs to elephants”, among others.

Exhibition Stand

There was an exhibition stand at the event venue to help spread the message of conservation and assist the locals understand the importance of wildlife. The Born Free and KWS teams helped in providing further information at the stand. On display were skulls from different animals, a variety of newsletters on wildlife, animal photographs, Born Free photographs showing the various operations inside the Park and some snares. The community, particularly the youth, were very excited to gain knowledge at the stand.
 
Speeches and Entertainment

An estimated 1,500 people attended the event. We had six schools from the Kinna community - Kinna Primary and Secondary, Algani Girls Primary, Bridge International, Iqra Academy and Galma Dido Primary School. The event started with a prayer by one of the community elders and welcome remarks made by the host head teacher.

Entertainment focusing wildlife conservation in form of poems, plays, songs and conservation talks from the schools.

Speeches

Victor interviewing and recording Fatuma Mohamed
Victor interviewing and recording Fatuma Mohamed

We had several speeches from the invited guests including the Borana community elder, Sub-county Education Officer, Northern Rangelands Trust representative, KFS, KWS and Born Free. Victor of BF read a speech on behalf of Born Free Foundation President and finally a speech from the chief guest.

Every speaker spoke about wildlife and the need to work together in promoting wildlife conservation. The leaders and elders from the Borana community were elated by the opportunity to host the event and promised to foster peace with KWS and work together to conserve wildlife.  The teachers, leaders and elders requested for support from KWS such as free trips for the pupils to Meru National Park. This was taken positively Mr. Korir and Dr. Tuqa Jirmo, Meru Senior Warden. They promised to work towards making it happen, once the park’s bus is serviceable. Victor conducted interviews with pupils from all schools about their love for wildlife and promised a trip to Meru Park for the best six pupils.

Tree planting

Finally, ten trees were planted at the host school by the main guests to commemorate the 2017 WWD event.

WWD Event in Nakuru

WWD national celebrations were held at Nakuru with various stakeholders involved including Born Free
WWD national celebrations were held at Nakuru with various stakeholders involved including Born Free

Four years ago, the World Wildlife Day was adopted into Kenya’s conservation calendar. This year, the national celebrations were held at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru Country with the youth taking centre stage in line with the theme “Listen to the young voices”. A sensitisation walk, Nakuru Town clean-up, and an essay competition were the major activities of the Day. Government agencies and conservation NGOs, including a team from Born Free led by Linda Mugure assembled to cement their solidarity in the fight against poaching.

Nakuru County enjoys a variety of wildlife species both in protected areas, private ranches and on community land. Massive encroachment into migratory corridors has resulted in numerous incidences of human-wildlife conflict and road kills. The County Government expressed their concern on the increasing threat and recognised the various projects in place to safeguard the natural resource which included a live fence and improving waste management owing to the fact that all the solid waste from Nakuru town is swept down to Nakuru National Park during flash floods.

Dr. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary in Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, urged the public to use all platforms to condemn poaching and expose the criminals to the relevant authorities.

Kitili Mbathi, KWS Director-General, called upon the young people to be the drivers of KWS Vision “to save the last great species and places on earth for humanity” and proceeded to award the winners of the best essay competition who had so persuasively written on ‘how to balance conservation and development’. He said that the institution’s lowest moment was in 2016 when two black rhinos were killed in Nakuru National Park, a highly-guarded protected area. This prompted doubling of efforts and resolve to deal with poachers ruthlessly.

In 2015, Born Free provided monitoring equipment and training to the Nakuru Park Rhino Monitoring Team and was proud to be one of the organisations that have helped in the conservation and management of the rich biodiversity in this protected area.

Tim Oloo, Born Free Kenya Country Manager, stressed on the need to combine the knowledge and wisdom of older generation with the innovation, creativity and energy of the up and coming generation to save our wildlife. “We must work together, learn together and share the information with our communities and in the lands beyond. But more than only listen to the young voices, we must also support and empower them to seize the opportunity and rise to the challenge of nurturing our wildlife.  It’s never too late!”

Dr. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, is introduced to some of the WWD participants
Dr. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, is introduced to some of the WWD participants
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