Environment Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu flagging off Global March for Elephants, Rhinos, & Lions in Nairobi. PHOTO/COURTESY
By PATRICK MAYOYO
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Nairobi today to join the international fight to save dwindling rhino, lion and elephant populations.
The march through Kenya’s capital was part of global marches for rhinos, lion and elephants that took place in more than 130 cities around the world.
The demonstrations were aimed at raising awareness of the international ivory trade and to press governments to implement stricter legal measures to prevent poaching.
Ms Rosemary Alles, Global March for Elephants, Rhinos (GMFER) Co-founder and President says their march is against extinction and demand governments take action to stop the poaching of elephants and rhinos and end the trade in ivory and rhino horn.
“With global corruption driving injustice toward animals and humans alike, we further demand transparency and accountability from governments on behalf of Justice for All and Justice for Earth,” she says.
Ms Alles however says despite significant resources pouring into Africa on behalf of conservation, wildlife communities continue to be in crisis.
“At the heart of the overarching failure of conservation in Africa is the disengagement of indigenous communities from the conversation about conservation,” she notes
Ms Alles says GMFER is looking for creative and meaningful ways to disrupt the dominant conservation paradigm prevalent in the African continent, a paradigm that is largely failing human and animal communities.
The Global March for Elephants, Rhinos, & Lions in Nairobi. PHOTO/COURTESY
“Worthy successes are to be found amidst the conservation story of today’s Africa. Still, such successes are scattered, dwarfed by the overarching tragedy dominating the remains of the continent’s wild heritage,” she notes.
Ms Alles says despite significant resources pouring into Africa on behalf of conservation, iconic wildlife communities continue to plummet from poaching, trafficking, habitat loss, the bushmeat trade and the fallout from human wildlife conflict.
“Together with Africa’s wild creatures, her indigenous human communities are also the victims of corrupt governments and the painful legacy of a colonial past that still leans toward privilege, racism and entrenched power structures unwilling to relinquish control,” she argues.
Black rhino populations have reduced by over 96 percent. PHOTO/COURTESY
Ms Alles says the dominant conservation ethic governing the continent is colonial and most influential conservation organizations working in Africa are western or western leaning and largely disengaged from indigenous communities and culture.
“The boards of these organizations and their power structures do not readily accommodate black Africans. By significant numbers, local communities are alienated from colonial paradigms of conservation,” she says.
She says indigenous peoples and their wild relatives share a common heritage, yet the many stories of Africa—stories about the remains of a once vibrant rainbow, about the intersection at which disenfranchised human and animal communities meet, about Africa’s wild voice, these stories are almost singularly narrated by the western voice, an insulting, and incongruous reality.
Approximately 2000 lions remain in Kenya today. PHOTO/COURTESY
“The historical context that disenfranchised and displaced black Africans and robbed communities of their resources is often ignored in contemporary conversations about conservation,” she says.
Ms Alles says approaches that may have contributed to successful conservation practices in pre-colonial times are rarely resurrected within a framework of listening and learning from indigenous cultures.
“Mythologies, stories and legends that formed the architecture of a distinctive way of life are dismissed as primitive and unsophisticated,” she decries.