Ivory Belongs to Elephants Walk: Post by Peter Towett

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As we come close to the end of the “Ivory Belongs to Elephants” walk, the question that needs answering is: Can eco-tourism sustain wildlife and the communities? Are our only options limited to planting vast tracts of cornfields or having game reserves with professional poachers/hunters?

We at Amara Conservation, ENC and other stakeholders believe that hunting amounts to little more than legalized poaching for the attention-seeking elite. It provides for fewer investment opportunities, kills development and generates less income than conventional tourism. Other livelihood options added to tourism will work. Hunting and killing is a reckless activity, which causes untold harm to wildlife populations. And it is impossible to monitor in these vast open spaces. It only makes poaching easier.

Simple logic shows that for every poacher caught, there are hundreds, if not thousands, more. Once an animal is killed, it’s gone. Tourists, in their greater numbers, can photo shoot an animal over and over without harm, injury or suffering. The message as we walk has been to sensitize the communities along the route on the need for preserving these few and most valuable resources Mother Nature has for us. Also since the new Wildlife Bill was passed, many people have never been educated on the new penalties as well as compensations – we are doing this now, as we have been doing in our Taita Taveta Elder program.

The walk has traversed many areas as well as many hotels in Amboseli and Tsavo. These hotels employ an average of 30 to 100 staff per lodge. Serious investments are made to provide for comfortable accommodations and a range of activities for communities that go with such a facility. If we lose these natural resources, these employees will be the first to go home empty-handed – but the consequences will be far-reaching throughout Kenya. There is a need to conserve and to pass the baton of conservation to each and every sector.

Together as friends we believe we can conserve our wild animals. PETER TOWETT

At Mbulia and with KWS Assistant Director O’brein ­ Day 25/26

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We stayed on the Mbulia Conservancy at Kipalo Hills, everyone there was so helpful and kind to us! Kipalo Hills is a very special place to us all. From our camp we went to nearby areas of Mlilo, Paranga and Kishushe to meet as many schools and communities as possible over this 2 1/2 day period. Amara has worked here a great deal, and the turnout was high at every location. We are happy that people are seeing us all together, and are eager to work with us going forward.

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We came across a man illegally chopping down a tree (photo 3625), Mr. Rukaria of KWS detained him and took him to the local Chief’s office. Illegal charcoal is the cause of a great deal of deforestation that only worsens the drought in these areas.

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On March 3rd KWS AD Robert O’brein and Community Warden Mr. Rukaria flagged us off from Kayanda Secondary School as we walked on to Tausa. One more week and we will be in Voi!

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Coming Down From the Hills Above Tsavo – Day 23 Continued

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Coming down from the Hills towards Kishushe and Mbulia, we were joined by Halima and Winny from Friends of Tsavo. They brought a food donation and stayed with us for two days, it was good meeting these lovely ladies and to have the physical and moral support from Friends of Tsavo!

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