Last week Esmond’s Martin was killed in his home in Nairobi Kenya. The incident is being called a robbery turned violent. I met Esmond and interviewed him at his home in 2015. His death is tragic news. He was a great contributor to efforts saving elephants in East Africa and the world over.
Besides a conservationist, Edmonds was a pen and ink artist. I remember his exhibit showcased at the Denver Art Museum a few years back. It is a small world. A kind and gentle man was Edmonds. I’m sorry for his loss and the extended family’s sorrow. Condolences to his wife. He was married to a sister of a Denver philanthropist. Sad to lose him to the dust of Nairobi.
As many of you might know, I have a deep respect and admiration for the animal welfare work taking place in Africa. I am privileged to know and work in Nairobi and all through Kenya with Josphat Ngonyo and the board and staff of the Africa Network for Animal Welfare. The comments of President Trump are disheartening and grossly troubling for me personally.
It brings me to write this.
I am appalled at president Trump’s characterization of African nations as “shithole countries”. Over the last eleven years, I have worked with Kenyan’s traveling to Kenya three times annually, over 25 trips in total. I know people there working diligently to feed their families, raise their children, striving for a better life. I know people who daily use a trench latrine.
For those of us who believe in marketplace efficiencies and capitalism, Trump’s elitist actions and now expressions of racism and hatred toward Africa and Haiti are more than frustrating. It makes me sick. Our president is a disgusting man. He demonstrates extreme views that should not be spoken outside the confines of his trophy-golf-course-properties. He should not be in a position to represent the United States of America. It is shameful.
Many Americans volunteer around the world as part of our Judeo-Christian ethic and/or simple humanitarianism to bring about peace and share prosperity. Trump disrespects America’s goodwill toward men. He disrespects people. He is not a president that should be enabled. He is intoxicated with power, his past sins only amplified as president of the United States.
This is a democracy. What can be done now? In my opinion, failure to unleash immediate action toward this scourge on our goodwill is un-American and negligent. We cannot wait until 2020 to remove this mean-spirited president from office. He is sadly unbalanced, uncaring, lacks compassion and understanding for others. We have an obligation to fix this. He is dangerous. His real estate deal making paradigm is not a template for formulating foreign policy. He is unwilling to learn.
I write to my Congresspeople. I encourage us all to do the same until there can be an uprising, a clamor of voices to register the frustration of the masses sufficient to move Republican leadership to action.
Jim Nyama, Executive Director of Ivory Belongs to Elephants and Kahindi Lekalhaile, Director of Public Affairs at the Africa Network for Animal Welfare discuss President Trumps recent action reversing the 2014 ban on transporting ivory from Zimbabwe and Zambia and his subsequent retraction putting the decision on hold for further study.
This lengthy interview reveals a candid discussion of the ethic for human-animal co-existence in Kenya as defined by local values. Local values are in conflict with elitist, powerful foreign pro-hunting influence. Lekalhaile and Nyama provide an African perspective to the post-colonial pressures existing throughout the continent.
China’s commitment to end ivory consumption transfers pressure to the United States
The United Kingdom is second to the United States in consumption of ivory
70% of wildlife lives outside national parks
Communities should not be characterized as poor. Communities live with Kenya’s wildlife every day
To protect and conserve wildlife living outside national parks, as well as inside national parks, the conservation discussion must include Kenyan communities
Tourism represents 12% of Kenya’s GNP
In African countries where hunting is allowed white hunters are poachers not conservationist in the eyes of locals
70% of hunting revenues go back to the country of origin not to the local people who live with wildlife
In Kenya, revenue from Kenya Wildlife Service does trickle down to local communities
New revenue to help fund conservation in the host country is largely a myth
Trump removes the Ivory Ban for U.S. Citizens hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
It is disturbing that our country is often characterized as largely self-serving, materialistic and elitist. We have become small yet we shrink more. There is something very mischievous in our president removing the 2014 Obama ban on transporting ivory back into the United States. Reading the news today there is speculation this executive order is a solution for sons to bring their big game trophies home. His pronouncement is retroactive to 2014 forward. Larger editorials and repeated comments from readers of the Washington Post, New York Post and Snoops and a host of others observe that this reversal is really about undoing absolutely everything Obama ordered during his administration.
Countries in East Africa like Tanzania allow elephant hunting. Kenya does not. It is a mixed bag in Africa but the continent is moving in the direction of saving wildlife for camera safaris, future generations and sharing the experience of simply living in awe of life, its manifestation of creation against the swashbuckling avarice of powerful oligarchies.
Kenya experienced a trying election last month. Zimbabwe’s government, one of the countries Americans can now import elephant parts from is in turmoil. There was a time when these countries looked to the United States for inspiration. For some, the United States still provides inspiration but it seems an exclusive arrangement benefiting world elites revealed in an honest display of winner-take-all in the personality of a sexist chest-pounding president standing over the carcass of animals, change, dignity, world citizenship, and capitalistic fairness.
The reality of today’s leadership is revealed in blunt honesty about its self-serving nature. It appears we have met the enemy and it is us, in the words of Walt Kelly. But I think we are better than this, kinder to all people including a demonstration of the care for all living creatures. Time will tell. I hope so. Should citizens march on Washington D.C. again?
Earlier today I thought I had posted a link to the Africa Network for Animal Welfare’s (ANAW’s) second edition of their signature publication Animal Welfare. It is a great example of grassroots action to save African habitat and animals.
For anyone following my blog, the actual link is highlighted above. (Sorry to have omitted it and thanks to a reader for bringing it to my attention.)
If you are interested in what volunteers and staff are doing in connection with ANAW in Nairobi, please take a look at the magazine. One story highlights Dr. Lisa McCarthy, a Fort Collins, Colorado veterinarian, who mobilizes veterinarians for travel to Africa vaccinating animals and spay and neutering dogs and cats.
The National Environmental Tribunal in Kenya has issued an order blocking the construction of the railroad across Nairobi National Park. Regrettably, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the government do not recognize the Tribunal, also known as the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) as an authority for overseeing Kenya’s natural resources. Steve Itela of the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) and other conservation groups are throttled by the Kenya Wildlife Service whose agents are guarding the construction site and allowing the railroad work to proceed. This is reported by the Star News in Nairobi.
Advocates, friends of Africa, conservationists, world travelers, and others seeking to save Nairobi National Park and its wildlife can speak out by writing the Kenya Tourist Authority raising the concern about the damage taking place to one of the jewels of East Africa. Indeed, it is reported by The Business Daily that a key rhinovirus sanctuary is Kenya’s habitat within the secure boundaries of Nairobi National Park. Damaging the integrity of the park’s land mass harms the rhino population, all the park’s wildlife and the recovery of Kenya’s tourism. The influence of tourist dollars may be the only lever left in this fight for the park.
Jot a quick email to the Tourist Authority linked in the previous paragraph. Support ANAW. Make a little noise. Thank you for taking the time to read this note.