On 3rd March 2016, the World celebrated the existence of wildlife, putting an emphasis on their rights to exist peacefully. The day’s theme “the future of wild animals is in our hands”, was a direct message to humanity, to refrain from activities that endanger their peaceful existence.
In the Coastal City of Mombasa, the day was marked in style! The Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) had teamed up with key stakeholders to commemorate the day. The CYNESA team in Mombasa was involved in the initial planning as well as participation in the event which took place at the KWS offices at Bamburi Beach (Pirates).
The day brought together primary and secondary schools, CYNESA Mombasa team, Kenya Wildlife Club Rangers-and their staff and other community members.
The occasion began with a cleanup exercise along the shores of Jomo Kenyatta Public beach where a total of 325 kilograms of thrash was collected.
Later, the participants settled down under the trees’ shade, with the rangers using the opportunity to take them through their job description and the risks they face each day to protect the wild animals.
One major challenge that came out clearly was poaching. The rangers explained how individuals conspire to kill wild animals for their tusks or hides of skin. The poachers are also very dangerous – carrying with them guns, which not only aim at killing the animals but also the rangers as they are a hindrance to their illegal work.
The rangers’ credibility was also put into question, As much as the participants acknowledged their hard and tough work, they questioned how such illegal killings still take place and the poachers go Scot free, or when arrested, sometimes very shallow cases are brought up against them rendering the court with no choice but to release them. It was felt that some rangers sometimes collude with the poachers. The participants therefore challenged them to pull up their socks in their seriousness of fighting poaching.
The rangers took up the challenge while cautioning the public against illegal hunting, deforestation, illegal dumping of waste and other harmful products into the waters causing a general destruction of the ecosystem. KWS further explained that they are only custodians of the wild animals and therefore, as many citizens as possible should take up the role to protect them for the benefit of the country.
Later on, an open discussion on the theme was created where participants engaged each other and the rangers on the rights of wild animals as well as how they contribute positively to our economy.
CYNESA team concluded the discussions by presenting a poem named “Pori iwe ya Wanyama” a Swahili phrase meaning “Let the forest belong to the animals”. The poem was aimed at raising awareness of illegal activities including deforestation and poaching conducted by humans. It also highlighted the threats that these activities pose to the national economy and to our own survival. The poem ended where all the concerned agree to live the forest to the animals.
KWS also took the opportunity to award certificates to some of the most outstanding rangers, staff, schools and organizations. The award named “Marine protection Champion” was given to individuals and groups who had done exemplary work in protecting the marine and the environment.
Apart from marking the day, the event provided a platform for learning, sharing and networking; it could be summed up in one word: successful!
Coast Region Coordinator, CYNESA Kenya.