Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Kenya Elephant Man arrives in Botswana

Kenya Elephant man enters Botswana through Ramokgwebana border post from Plumtree border of Zimbabwe, his was escorted by Senior Government officials from Plumtree led by Ms Rorisang Makhurane District Administrator of Mangwe District, Cllr Chairman of Plumtree Fanisani Dube among other senior officials.

I feel depressed that today I am sending you Jim out of Zimbabwe after spending a whole month in Zimbabwe educating people says Ms Makhurane, I only spent a short time with you and I how I wish you can spend more time particularly in Mangwe District she adds.

Jim left Kenya in July 14th and enters Zimbabwe on September 10th from Zambia, in one month with his host Farai Chakwa, Blessed Ngudo and Sam Nkomo he crisscrossed Vic Falls, Hwange, Gwayi, Lupana, Bulawayo and Plumtree. When I was being handed over from Zambia I was not sure how Zimbabwe would be, I am leaving this country full of tears of love looking by how Zimbweans have done to my team and I “ says Nyamu” Our challenges found an answers in your land and your support, concern and care was overwhelming something that I will never forget he adds.

According to CITES, four countries namely South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa down listed their elephant population from Appendix I to II in 2008, there has been global and continental efforts in reverting this decision in view of ending domestic trade on ivory that has escalated poaching across South and East African region. Africa host about 415,000 elephants according to Africa Elephant Data Base with some countries almost losing their elephants due to poaching, habitats loss and climate change.

Jim will be walking across Francistown, Nata, Maun, Palapye to Gaborone Botswana capital, he is expected to end his campaign walk in Gaborone that has taken him 102 days covering approximately 3769 km . I had purposed to walk up to Johannesburg but due to visa restriction and validity I will have to finish the walk at Gaborone says Nyamu.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Elephant Neighbors Center nominate 11 Goodwill Ambassadors

On behalf of the Elephant Neighbors Center, I wish to appoint the first bunch of our Honorary Good Will Ambassadors from all over the world for a period of 1 year . These noble Ambassadors will represent us and help in creating awareness from their reach, as most of you are aware that awareness is numbers we are committed in stretching out our mission and agenda.
The first bunch of the Hon Good Will Ambassadors include the following .
1. Kareem Mohamed Legal Advisor based in United Kingdom (Kareem Mohamed
2. Babra Adoso current Chairman of Association of Uganda Tour Organization Babra Adoso
3. Gloria Alelle currently Miss Tourism from Northern Tourism region in Uganda Gloria Alelle
4. Helen Colgan wildlife lover based United Kingdom Helen Colgan
5. Shubert Mwarabu Director of Me Against Elephant Poaching in Tanzania Shubert Mwarabu
6. Cheryl Brown Conservationist based in US Cheryl Brown
7. Billy Lombe Director of Youth Environment Network in Zambia Billy Lombe
8. Florence Ruhina Former Miss Tourism Nyandarua County in Kenya Florence Ruhina
9. Saskia Heyder Conservationist based in German
10. Mondo Luca 15 years old boy and founder of YARH Network based in Sweden Mondo Luca
One again I congratulate the above team who has accepted to support us as we prepare for the East – South Africa Elephant awareness campaign walk, during and after the walk. I am humbled by your previous support you have shown in your personal capacity in wildlife conservation.
Website : www.elephantcenter.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/elephantcenter/
Twitter : @NyamuJim
Instagram : #JimJustusNyamu

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Kenyan Elephant Man plans to walk from Nairobi to SA for Jumbo

According to African elephant specialist group (www.elephantdatabase.org ) Africa  elephants population dropped from 472,269 to 401,732 between 2006 and 2013 , the cause of the decline is caused by illegal poaching of elephants arriving to 9% rate of decline primary due to poaching .The data shows that between 2006 and 2013 Africa lost 193,749 elephants , South Africa lost 19,198 and East Africa 47,898 .

East Africa as a region is affected by poaching and has experienced an almost 55% elephant population decline, largely attributed to an over 60% decline in Kenya and Tanzania elephant population. Three East African countries Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were classified also as Ivory source by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) CoP 15 Doha in 2010.
Southern African elephant population has also suffered a decline, the data shows between 2007-2013 the region lost 18,658 (2007; 297,718 and 2013; 278,520). Botswana host the highest savanna elephants in Africa (2013; 133,453) seconded by Zimbabwe (2013; 67,954) respectively. Four countries in this region namely Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa have listed their elephants in appendixes II and practice ivory trade.
Cases of poaching in the East and South Africa region have been cartelized by macro factors in their neighboring countries namely Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa that are enjoying the down listing of their elephant population from Appendix I to II by CITES opening up opportunities to trade in live elephant and ivory.
The absence of sufficient integration multilateral and bilateral policies and action frameworks against acts and crimes poaching despite cross-border wildlife reserves and parks are significant loopholes promoting less conviction cases. Not any of this three broader country is safe working independently faced with a fact of cross-border elephant movement and migrations. It is justifiable that efforts such as the East African Walk, aimed at strengthening inter-state collaborations to identify integrated anti-poaching mechanism, action plan and task forces are required.
It’s in this spirit that Jim will lead an East – South Africa Grass –Elephant campaign and awareness walk. The 180 days walk aims at covering approximately 4500km aiming at one (mapping the elephant movement (trans-regional) from East – South Africa secondly showing the residents/nations how significant its in safeguarding these long corridors and thirdly lobbying for an amalgamated wildlife anti-poaching and trafficking strategy from the two region. Lastly this walk will also diplomatically ask the four countries namely Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa to take their elephant population in Appendix I. These four countries are the only in Africa whose elephant population is in Appendix II and they can legally trade on elephants and have negatively affected the neighboring countries/region.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Is UK ready to ban Ivory trade

The existing rules in UK license worked ivory items produced after 3 March 1947 to be sold with a certificate, with no restrictions at all on worked ivory produced before that date. The physical and online market surveys in April 2016 shows the availability of antique ivory in the UK market.  This confirms that no new or raw (unworked” ivory was seen in any of the physical market outlets or online platforms. These antique markets are available across many cities in UK that include Swindon and Fulham among others according to the rapid survey of UK ivory markets by Traffic.

In October 6th2017, UK government through Environment Secretary Michael Gove Sanctioned proposal to introduce a total ban on UK sales of ivory that could contribute either directly or indirectly to the continued poaching of elephants. In his strong statement the Minister says “ The decline in the elephant population fuelled by poaching for ivory shames our generation” He also emphasized that these plans will put the UK front and centre of global efforts to end the insidious trade in ivory.

A directive was then announced looking for the public evidence on the effect of the proposed ban would have. This includes its effect on elephant conservation, the natural environment and businesses, as well as its economic and cultural effect. The intended ban was subject to some strictly defined exemptions. The consultation at the beginning of this month showed that 85% of the UK population supported a ban on ivory sales—most supported a ban with no exemptions. There is a case to be made for antique ivory in some instances says Lord Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville during the debate at the House of Lords on December 21st 2017.

The “Ivory belongs to elephant” London /Kensington- Bristol Elephant and awareness campaign walk spin over this period of UK greater consultation. Jim Justus Nyamu and a team of MTM – Bristol engaged local people and received immersed ground support from local and authorities that i.e. Lord Mayors who backed UK government and showed solidarity in saving African elephants and UK government in its determination to reach out to citizens called for public and media debate in an attempt to gain citizen support.  During our 11 days walk, we passed through Windor , Reading, Newbury, Swindon, Cirencester, Cheltenham , Gloucester, Stroud, Chippenham  -Bath- Yate to Bristo approximately 210miles .  This awareness campaign walk is a continuation walk already done in East Africa and in the USA under the banner of “ Ivory belongs to elephants “ and so far Jim has walked 110,800km with a plan to walk from Nairobi- South Africa in May 2018. The South Africa awareness walk, aims at bringing 8 African countries with highest elephants together in a bid to identify a unified mechanism in ending poaching. 

On December 21st 2017, I was privilege and honored to be a guest at the House of Lords in WestMinster London at 2pm. The Lord Carrington of Fulham led a debate on the impact of the ivory trade on endangered species, and efforts to eliminate that trade whilst protecting the cultural heritage of antique ivory. During the debate Lord Bakewell acknowledged the local communities efforts in creating space for the elephants, “to be completely successful, the solution to this abhorrent practice will need to involve educating the communities that share the landscape with these magnificent beasts and providing an alternative source of income for those who carry out the poaching and their families” say Bakewell.

This debate received unison across the House on the objective of protecting the elephant and other endangered animals that are sources of ivory. The question is how that can be achieved. “ Nobody who has been to Africa and has seen the distinction of the noble beast, the elephant, and then seen how their tasks have been torn from the body, could fail to be moved. Unfortunately, I have seen that on a number of occasions and have seen the difficulty faced by the anti-poaching squads as they try to enforce the law and restrict this type of activity says Lord Stevens of Kirkwehelpinton” .  Different Lords shows solidarity and expressed a need supports “We need to apply forensic judgment to the trade in ivory. At present, the bad guys are getting away with it. We must accept that legal domestic ivory markets contribute to this horror in two ways: by fuelling demand for ivory and by providing a hiding place for illegal modern ivory to be laundered through the legal market, and the UK is a significant trading place for legal ivory” Lord Horgan Hawe .

During the 3 hours debate 10 Lords of 13 raised some pertinent observation and comments that affirms the commitment to end ivory trade in UK. Lord Hogan Hawe in his Maiden Speech recapped that I want to make it clear that I support a total or quasi ban on the trading of ivory in the UK for both domestic sale and export. I could support a total ban on ownership but there are still so many unanswered questions, as has been sketched out here today, about how to implement such a ban. “  I would want to see far more emphasis placed on recovering criminal assets from ivory poachers and those they sell to. I know from experience, as will police officers here and those I have worked with, that organized crime is always about profit. Criminals may trade in drugs, sometimes human beings, firearms or, as we have heard today, ivory, but always for profit. Take out the cash and you stop the crime; follow the cash and you will find the criminal” say Lord Hogan in his submission.

Campaigners argue that the demand for ivory is fuelled in part by the UK’s legal ivory market, and that this encourages the poaching of an estimated 20,000 elephants per year. As I have said, the results of opinion polls suggest that a total ban on the sale of ivory should take place. Campaigners argue that if a ban is taken forward, any antique piece of ivory that is historically and culturally significant and which the public wants to see should be placed in a museum. However, I think it will be quite hard to pursue that line says Lord Stevens “ .   Lord Baroness Jones of Whitchurch objected the views expressed by several noble Lords that items of artistic, cultural or historic value should be exempt. That is a real challenge: who is to determine which pieces meet that description? Self-certification is clearly open to fraud and a licensing system, as some noble Lords attempted to describe, would be cumbersome and would rely, again, on skills that auction houses simply do not have.

I personally feel that there is a dire need for radical and robust action to protect one of the world’s most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute.  According to the latest data Africa host 315,000 and have lost over 10,000 in less than 10 years, It is estimated by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that the population of African elephants declined by 111,000 over the past 10 years.  “ The decline is largely caused by the spill in poaching for ivory that started in 2006, in actual facts 2016 was the worst for most countries in Africa to experience since 1970’s” .

The UK consultation came to an end yesterday December 29th 2017 ,  the question now remains  will UK government impose a total ban  on the ivory trade?  Will they placed recovery assets from ivory poachers and those they sell to as proposed in the recovery procedures? What will be the fate of the banning the sale of ivory and sales of items of artistic, cultural or historic significance?  

By Jim Justus Nyamu- Elephant Neighbors Center .


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Tarmacking for Jumbos

It has been four and a half years, 10,457Km (6498 Miles) since I started walking for elephants and it feels like I just started. The question most people ask is, why walk for elephants and for all those miles and for years?
Last month, I completed my 13th edition of Ivory Belongs to Elephants Walk in Marsabit from Nairobi covering a distance of 617Km in 32 days. I did what I do best which is walking and talking to well organized groups of people from town to town, along the planned walk route, engaging them in the need to protect our elephants and wildlife at large, enlightening them on the wildlife laws that would be of help to them and getting feedback on how to better co-exist with wildlife from their point of view.

I started this initiative in 2013 after realizing how ignorant Kenyans were about the dwindling numbers of our largest land mammal, which is a great icon in Kenya’s tourism business. They say knowledge is power. I had the information that grassroots community in Kenya and Africa at large desperately needed (and still need) to be able to participate in conservation. My first walk was from Mombasa to Nairobi where I covered a distance of 500Km in 14 days with minimal support since many people and organizations had not understood what exactly I was doing. Interestingly enough, the walk campaign greatly benefitted Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) but they did not support me as I expected in my first walk. I am glad to say this changed for the better in the subsequent walks. 

In my most recent walk I highlighted Ahmed of Marsabit, who remains the most famous Kenyan Jumbo due to its long and beautiful tusks. Ahmed was put under 24/7 protections under presidential decree by the first president of Kenya. This goes to show how important our elephants are in this nation, a fact that has to be repeated on and on for people to change their attitudes towards wildlife. The focus was on promoting Ahmed’s legacy and using it to promote Marsabit as a tourists’ destination. The remains of Ahmed are in the National Museums of Kenya alongside a replica of the same.  I was impressed by communities who have established wildlife conservancies and I encouraged them to keep up the good work because our wildlife’s future entirely depends on communities’ goodwill since 70% of the wildlife in Kenya lives outside the protected areas. It is therefore mandatory to note that KWS cannot protect our heritage alone as at times it is out of their reach, we as community need to support the rangers.

Walking is not easy. It’s even harder when it’s done for a cause. During Nairobi-Marsabit walk, I had a myriad of challenges; some were anticipated but others I’d say I had underrated. To start with, our cause was blessed on the first day with rains as we completed the first leg. We were therefore prepared for rains and definitely cautious for our health. When it rains, I need to continue walking as the cause runs on a timeline and we are expected ahead as planned. Sometimes this becomes a challenge especially when I have a large group of people walking with me. Often my one or two hired vehicles are not enough to offer shelter to all. It is heartbreaking for me when they all look up to me when I barely have enough raincoats to share.

We approached Mt. Kenya region from Nanyuki all the way to Subuiga and very cold weather. Keep in mind that when you are walking for a cause and you must wear branded T-shirt that did not provide an adequate layer against the cold.  The low morning temperatures exposed my team to the threat of the flu and pneumonia. We thank God we pulled through just fine. On the same stretch my knees also suffered. The terrain from Timau to Subuiga and all the way down to Meru was so steep and the downhill descent put a lot of pressure on my knees. By the time we were getting to Meru, my leg muscles were worn out and I experienced painful muscle cramps. When we got to Isiolo, I had to get a knee support especially for my right knee.

From Bad to Worse
The journey from Isiolo was characterized by extreme daytime temperatures that were direct contrast from what we experienced in the Mt. Kenya region. My knee support was tight and uncomfortable and in combination with the heat made the walk became unbearable. My breathing was labored as we encountered crosswinds, which would stir up dust from roadside. We would be hit by blasts of hot air and once in a while cool air. The newly tarmacked Nairobi-Moyale road was a blistering walkway, reflecting back the heat from the scorching sun. It felt like we were slowly roasting in an oven. I experienced severe headaches and reddened eyes for days. We endured temperature highs of 34 degrees Celsius at an emerging center where we camped for two nights called Sere Olipi and also at Merille, a trading center which is the gateway to Marsabit County.

I must say our bodies are magical. I had never experienced these kinds of temperatures before but with time, the body adapted to the harsh temperatures and I could walk just fine even though my T shirt would be soaked wet in sweat. The weather fluctuated from hot to cold at Loglogo. The body had to readjust and I even realized I barely remembered to take water since my system did not demand hydration. 

Nonetheless, challenges are meant to be overcome. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comforts and convenience but at times where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. I strive propelled by motivation for the cause knowing that by overcoming the challenges, the walk becomes meaningful.

Basically, every walk has its unique challenges but a common challenge I experience across all walks is the logistics of planning for the journey. I usually have to be present in all the planning meetings. By the time I begin the walk, I am usually fatigued and overwhelmed by the countless engagements that planning demands.  I have since learnt to delegate some duties, though in most cases I have to attend to them in person. 

Over time I have come to learn that it is imperative to walk with people full of positive energy, people who are jovial, who create fun, make me dance along to the music as I walk and divert my attention from exhaustion and worries. I have firsthand experience of how the groups of people you have really do affect you mentally, physically and psychologically. I would especially give credit to my Rwandese friend Nkurunziza wa Nkurunziza, who joined me during the East Africa Walk in 2016 and also walked with me from Isiolo to Marsabit.  Walking with Nkurunziza and his kind re-energizes me and before I know it, I am engaged in my next community meeting or the destination for the day.
I commend the company I had during the Nairobi-Marsabit Walk. I was caught with a smile on my face in some exceptional photos captured by one energetic guy called Kizito. I must reiterate the importance of walking with the right team. This is an important consideration I have learned over four years of walking and there have been occasions when I nearly terminated a walk before completion or sent the entire team back home to walk alone.

Finances are also a critical component to the success of any walk. One major need that cuts across all the walks is constant presence of a vehicle from the first to the last day of walk. I must have a truck that carries camping gear, foodstuff for my crew and a public address system. Occasionally, I need a vehicle for advance assignments as well.  I therefore I fundraise while am walking in collaboration with my communications person to cater for the needs of my crew during the walk especially in the areas of mobility and meals.

There are some days that I appear unhappy, bored or worn out, but it’s just that my mind is usually preoccupied by pressing logistical matters. I believe acquiring my own vehicle is an urgent need that will help the cause a great deal as the cost of hiring and fueling makes a big dent in our operational budget. During the East Africa Walk, at Fort Portal Uganda we didn’t have a vehicle for three consecutive days and we could not walk. Evidently, it is next to impractical to put on our luggage on our backs and walk for the distance. This is only practical in mountain climbing.

Sometimes these preoccupations distract me from paying attention to my basic needs such as staying hydrated. At times like this it is useful to have an assistant to remind me to drink water and other energy drinks. Without this I normally suffer from headaches further fueled by air pollution from vehicles plying busy highways. Air pollution is a health risk that can lead to respiratory and heart conditions and I therefore do not take it lightly. I have thought of practical ways to deal with this challenge as I find using dust masks quite cumbersome.  

Having a proper pair of walking shoes has been of great help especially to prevent blisters. During my Marsabit walk I was completely blister free unlike on previous occasion when I had invested in proper walking shoes. I will need to acquire a new pair for my next walk in Uganda since my last pair were worn after the Marsabit stretch.

Why do I continue walking despite all these challenges?
Here’s the thing, I focus on the bigger picture. Like I had mentioned earlier, I started walking after seeing the high level of ignorance amongst our communities whose roles are vital in protecting our elephants. I consider what I have done so far to be in the past and I have more to do ahead of me. Even with the attendant risks, I enjoy my job.

Provoking peoples thinking and changing their attitude is not a walk in the park; it takes time and consistency to get the results. The long term approach for this cause is targeting the youth and young children especially those in primary school which is exactly what we are doing. I believe if we inculcate a culture of conservation in them, it will become their way of life and adopting a conservation mindset would be second nature.

What they need is the knowledge of how valuable wildlife is, how to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts and most especially how to benefit from wildlife.  It is unfortunate that the bias that we normally have towards wildlife is from inherited attitudes that labelled certain animals as bad.  All animals have their ecological importance and we just need to learn how to live with them. The Almighty did not make a mistake in creating any of them.

I attract thousands of people across the world especially through social media who give their support by all means. I have also received goodwill support from the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and that of Interior and Coordination of National Government.

I have had substantial support from the First Lady of the Republic especially during the East Africa Walk where she flagged me off at KICC. I acknowledge the support of the security organs in Kenya as well as they have walked with me especially through areas considered risky to ensure safety for my team and I easing the cause.  I must say that the demand for this knowledge is higher than the supply. The communities that I talk to along the way, governments and certain institutions are craving for this information. During the Nairobi-Marsabit walk, I realized the Marsabit county government was very receptive, supportive and eager to learn.

When I started this walk, I had clear objectives that have evolved to keep up with knowledge gathered or new laws that affect or relate to the cause. My messaging approach to communities is customized to their way of life and level of understanding to enable the message to be effective. For instance, I get to show them the aesthetical value of elephants by having them express how they feel after seeing the elephants. Take for instance the SGR which was recently launched by the President that has passengers  excited about seeing elephants at Tsavo while onboard.

Elephants are magnificent animals with exceptional beauty. They are also the world’s largest mammals. As an eye opener, I encourage people in fringe communities to learn more about elephants and act as tour guides and in return they will be able to reap some earnings.  I also give them clues of minimizing human-wildlife conflict and by maintaining a safe distance from them.
We are all responsible for our wildlife and they are beneficial to all of us as global citizens.  We should be all custodians of our wildlife. The rangers and institutions mandated to protect them are simply the first line of defense watching over our wildlife.

I believe if we all changed our attitude towards wildlife, it would be very easy to ensure their survival and to mitigate human wildlife conflict which has become the next major threat for elephants after poaching. 

We must come together, walk together and talk to each other!

Drop Mic!
Jim Justus Nyamu- Elephant Man