NAIROBI - The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife is targeting to raise Ksh100 Million during the upcoming inaugural Magical Kenya Tembo Naming Festival.
This was said by Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala when he received contributions towards the initiative from 4 organizations: East Africa Safari Rally, Chandaria Foundation, Oltukai Lodges and African Wildlife Foundation at the KWS Headquarters Nairobi National Park.
The Inaugural Magical Kenya Tembo Naming Festival is set to be held on 9th October 2021 at the Amboseli National Park where President Uhuru Kenya is expected to grace the event. During the event, individuals will be allowed to give names to selected elephants after donating funds towards the program which is aimed at boosting conservation efforts of the endangered species.
Speaking during reception of the contributions, CS Balala expressed his delight towards the donors for embracing the initiative, noting that it will go a long way in boosting conservation efforts while sending out a strong message on the role conservation plays in tourism and by extension many livelihoods.
“I wish thank the sponsors for embracing and being part of this noble course. Conservation of our wildlife resources remains key for us to ensure that future generations enjoy our country’s heritage, natural resources and the incredible species that live within it. Therefore, it is ideal that we are here as we commence the first step towards the event which aims to ensure we have funds to support conservation of our Elephants,” said Balala.
The CS further noted that the initiative is meant to bring all stakeholders on board in embracing conservation, noting that everyone has a role to play in ensuring the preservation of Kenya’s heritage.
“Our aim is to ensure that we encourage more people and organizations to engage in conservation efforts in the country. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us many things and one of them is that we must ensure that conservation efforts are sustainable and that wildlife protection should never be vulnerable to the shocks that affect tourism activities in the country,” added Balala.
The KWS Director General, Brig (Rtd.) John Waweru echoed the remarks by the Cabinet Secretary citing that African Savannah Elephants present tremendous challenges for their successful conservation. It is also an “umbrella” species, whose protection provides collateral security for overall biodiversity & tourism industry. “It is a “conflict” and “engineer” species, capable of modifying habitats to the benefit or detriment of different plant and animal species on a local or wider scale. In collaboration with its stakeholders Kenya Wildlife Service has put in place various strategies to conserve this key species including conservation education and community engagement, securing connectivity in critical habitats, employing new technology such as collaring to provide data and information on habitat use and infrastructure development, Innovative and Light-based deterrents for early detection and warning”, he added.
The Kenya Tourism Board CEO, Dr. Betty Radier urged more organizations and individuals to join this years and subsequent programs. “The Magical Kenya Tembo Naming Festival offers a platform for the public to adopt, name and nurture the elephant because supporting their conservation is a collective responsibility for the endless benefits they present to our livelihoods. This is strategic in terms of supporting tourism which is largely anchored by wildlife. Conservation is something that should be a concern for each and every one of us, and as such it is important that everyone plays a part. I would like to request like-minded individuals and organizations to join us in this noble course for this year’s inaugural event and for the years to come,” said Radier.
On his part, Philip Muruthi, AWF Vice President for Species Conservation and Science noted that the initiative will be key in ensuring healthy coexistence between humans and the animals.
"African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) believes that sustainable development of Africa, including Kenya, is directly linked to how well humankind respects nature, allowing wildlife such as these magnificent elephants to continue to thrive in their natural environments. Natural environments provide us with the ecological goods and services that ensure our economic growth and human wellbeing. AWF continues to provide support to elephant conservation across west, central, east, and southern Africa. We commend CS Balala and his team for this innovative way of raising funds to promote conservation especially under Covid19 circumstances,” said Muruthi.
Currently, Kenya boasts of over 34,000 Elephants with the number gradually increasing at an annual rate of 2.8 per cent over the last three decades. Remarkably, there has been a 96 per cent decline in poaching with 386 elephants being lost in 2013 compared to 11 elephants poached in 2020.
KTB and KWS are calling on as many partners to give the elephants a name, give them their rightful to move and #SaveTheTembo.