First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Sunday called for the shutting down of wildlife trophy markets in the world because they fuel poaching of precious species.
Speaking during a Kenya Wildlife Services Ceremony to fete Kenya’s wildlife conservation heroes, the First Lady reiterated that the war against poaching will never be won as long as there are countries that encourage and support trade in wildlife trophies.
“The war on poaching will not be won if the countries that drive the demand for these products do not shut the markets. We therefore call upon the international community to prevail upon the countries driving trophy demand globally to shut them down,” said the First Lady at the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters in Nairobi.
This year’s Conservation Heroes Day was marked with pride as Kenya recorded a 90 percent reduction in rhino poaching, thanks to the sacrifice of rangers who are proud of their work. The day also coincided with the seventy second anniversary of the establishment of the Nairobi National Park.
A Global Rangers’ Survey conducted early this year showed that over 95% of Kenya’s wildlife rangers are very proud of their work of protecting wildlife heritage despite working over 8 hours in some of the most difficult terrain and remotest places within the country.
“It is because of the constant sacrifices of the men and women keeping vigil over our wildlife, that we are not only reducing the popularity of wildlife trophies in their core markets, but also gradually enlightening the world about the importance of preserving our unique flora and fauna for future generations to enjoy,” said the First Lady in her address.
The First Lady also called on Kenyans to play active roles in conserving the country’s wildlife heritage.
“Our people must play an inclusive role in wildlife stewardship and invest in nature based enterprises to reap sustainable benefits from our wildlife heritage,” said the First Lady.
At the event, many KWS officers were presented with awards for exemplary efforts to conserve wildlife. Special mentions were also given to wildlife rangers who died in the course of duty. The names of those celebrated posthumously were read in different categories including those who were shot dead in confrontations with poachers; those who were killed while on investigative duties; those who drowned and those who died in fatal road accidents or air crashes while on official duty.
“On this auspicious Conservation Heroes Day, let us acknowledge that those who look after our wildlife deserve special mention for all that they do,” said the First Lady. “To the families of the fallen heroes represented here today, mere words are inadequate to express the gratitude we feel towards our conservation heroes,” the First Lady added.