About 100 people on Friday morning participated in a walk aimed at raising awareness about conservation of elephants which are at the verge of being extinct due to persistent poaching activities.
Conservationists have in the recent past raised concern over the rate at which elephants in Africa are depreciating resultant of the illicit trade in ivory from elephant tusks.
The walk in Kampala was inspired by Jim Justus Nyamu, medicine http://channelingerik.com/wp-content/plugins/cleantalk-spam-protect/inc/cleantalk-widget.php 40, a Kenyan national, wildlife scientist and Executive Director Elephant Neighbor Center who has embarked on a laborious task to walk across East Africa to save the giant mammals.
The group began trekking from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kamwokya, through the city and ended at from Kololo independence grounds. So far, Nyamu and his team of 10 others have covered 32,000 kilometers and 125 districts in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania within 97 days.
“East Africa is known to be the biggest producer of ivory in Africa. I decided, instead of writing voluminous reports and meeting government officials, it was prudent to step out in the communities and sensitize the locals on the dangers of poaching,” Nyamu told Chimpreports in an interview after the Kampala walk.
On his walk, Nyamu spares time to educate communities neighboring national parks on the critical importance of conservation and changing the negative attitude by people towards wild animals.
“During my expedition across East Africa, I have noticed a lot of ignorance among locals about wildlife conservation but there was willingness to support. It’s time we as Africans began to take the lead in solving our problems such as poaching,” he added.
Besides poaching, the increased human encroachment on wildlife habitats has also minimized the movement of elephants and affected their reproduction. At the event graced by conservationists, tour operators and government officials, James Lutalo the Director Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities represented the Minister of Tourism Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu.
“Governments cannot just sit and watch as these iconic creatures (elephants) suffer distinction. This walk is timely and there’s need for more of such campaigns. Among other interventions, East African states should share information on poaching,” Prof. Kamuntu said in his message.
Nyamu will now proceed on his walk to Jinja, Iganga, Bugiri and Busia before transiting to Kenya. He will then journey through Kisumu, Kakamega, Nakuru and expects to be back in Nairobi on October 8.
Currently, Uganda has a total of about 3,500 elephants and is said to be among the very few countries where the number of elephants has continuously grown. Many have argued that as long as the huge demand of ivory on the foreign market especially Asia remains, the vice of poaching will be difficult to wipe out.
A kilogram of ivory is estimated at USD 1,000 per kilogram. Nyamu says; “China has been the biggest market for ivory but even when it has moved to prohibit domestic use of ivory, in Africa, poachers are still killing elephants in anticipation of huge sums of money.”
For long, conservationists in Africa have pushed for a global ban on the trade of ivory and this will be high on agenda when Presidents Uganda, Kenya, Gabon and Botswana meet for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg this month.
The four countries are said to host more than half of Africa’s elephants. In 2014 alone, 20,000 elephants across the African continent were killed by poachers. Experts predict that at this rate, the continent won’t have elephants in 20 years.