UNDP and First Lady of Kenya join forces against elephant killings

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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (right) present a "Hands off our Elephants" plaque to Helen Clark during the signing of a partnership agreement on wildlife conservation and anti-poaching in Kenya. @UNDP in Kenya

New programme puts communities at the center of anti-poaching drive

, Kenya – Combating poaching will not succeed unless communities are empowered to help prevent its alarming upsurge, said the first lady of Kenya Margaret Kenyatta and the Administrator of the UN Development Programme, Helen Clark, launching a new conservancy programme in the South of the country.

This horrific phenomenon must stop. It is depleting our natural heritage, destroying lives and incomes, and fuelling corruption and insecurity”, said Ms. Kenyatta at the launch of the programme.

Wildlife attracts over one million tourists per year, generates over 12 percent of the national revenue, and directly employs over 230,000 Kenyans. Estimates put the value of a live elephant in Kenya at over USD 1 million per animal given its estimated life span and the services it renders the wildlife tourism industry.

In Kenya and the rest of the African continent, the current poaching crisis is threatening to make a disastrous impact on livelihoods, poverty rates and opportunities for sustainable development.

The scheme will create new livelihoods for communities living on the outskirts of Amboseli, an 8,000 kilometre-square natural reserve spanning the border between Kenya and Tanzania. By investing in sustainable farming, eco-tourism, and conservancy, the programme is expected to provide people with an alternative to killing wild animals.

“Poaching pushes vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction, fuels corruption and conflict, destroys lives, and deepens poverty and inequality,” said Helen Clark. “We must all work together to stop this trade.”

In addition to creating new sources of revenue, the programme will give local communities, through the creation of village councils, the authority and capacity to plan and manage the use of their own land.

The scheme will also aim to create better processes for information-sharing between communities, park rangers and national authorities, while raising awareness of the impact of poaching in affected areas. The Government of Kenya has accelerated its efforts to control poaching, increasing surveillance and passing a law making it easier to convict those responsible.

The programme in Amboseli coincides with the scaling up by the First Lady of Kenya of the #HandsOffOurElephants information campaign, which aims to stop the killing of elephants and slow down the demand for ivory in Asian countries.  

Over 20,000 African elephants were poached across Africa in 2013, according to a report released on 13 June by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

UNDP is taking a three-pronged approach to fight poaching, helping countries in Africa to generate sustainable livelihoods, strengthening enforcement against poaching and reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife in countries outside of the continent.

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