• Conservation of the elephant in Kenya has a historical connotation. What a coincidence that the same day, Kenya lost Big Tim, Kenya’s second President too passed on.
On Tuesday the February 4, 2020, Big Tim, an elephant bull who was a darling to many animal lovers and tourists both in the country and beyond, passed on at Amboseli National Park, as reported by Kenya Wildlife Service. KWS is the only recognised state corporation mandated with conservation and management of wildlife in Kenya and to enforce related laws and regulations.
Big Tim is said to have passed on due to natural causes at the advanced age of 50. The Bull was befitting for his name as he was a Tusker, a term of reference for elephants with remarkably massive tusks which touch the ground. Big Tim was revered as Kenya’s National Treasure and tourists came from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the bull, his magnificence, might and splendor.
History of Conservation Efforts, Kenya Chapter
Conservation of the elephant in Kenya has a historical connotation. What a coincidence that the same day, Kenya lost Big Tim, Kenya’s second President too passed on. What shall forever be etched in many conservationists’ minds is the memory of the then second President of Kenya torching a staggering twelve tones of ivory in 1989. This unprecedented act awarded him international acclaim and aided to reshape global policy on ivory exports.
Thereafter, ivory trade was banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The President’s move of torching the tusks attracted its fair share of criticism with many stating the same was a mere publicity event and other countries like Botswana, which has an immerse number of elephants frowning on the same as it devalues elephant tusks. Kenya under both the Kibaki and Uhuru Presidency set tonnes of ivory on fire, in 2011 and 2016 respectively. Precedent had been set!
Elephant Role, Kenya Chapter
Elephants are tourism magnets. The most drawing kind of tourism in Kenya is the big five tourism and the wildebeest migration. The big five include the lion, buffalo, rhino, leopard and of course the elephant. Popular places to view elephants in Kenya include: Amboseli National Park, the home of the fallen giant Big Tim, Chyulu Hills, Samburu National Park, Tsavo National Park, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Masai Mara and David Shelrick Wildlife Trust. Apart from elephants playing a direct role as a tourist attraction, a sector that is a source of employment for thousands and a top foreign exchange earner, elephants as a species play a critical role in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystems they reside in. Elephants trample dense grasslands thus making room for other smaller species to coexist and also use their tusks to dig for water during the dry season.
Wildlife Threats In Kenya
Wildlife and in specific elephants in Africa face a myriad of threats. This include; increased loss of their natural habitats, rising conflict with humans over diminishing resources, over population of humans and one of the most pronounced risk is escalating poaching for their tusks. Poaching in Kenya has been on the decline and this is due to deliberate effort from the government to curb the crime, increased focus to conservation and tough anti-poaching policies.Currently, Kenya has one of the most stringent wildlife crime laws involving endangered and threatened species. If convicted, one risks lengthy prison sentence or a hefty fine.In comparison to previous years, elephant poaching has significantly reduced though wildlife still faces poaching risks.
Big Tim Rests
It is a great satisfaction that Big Tim remains shall be preserved and will rest at the National Museum in Kenya’s Capital City, Nairobi for educational and exhibition purposes. It is a bigger relief that Tim passed on due to natural causes, as reportedand not felled under the bullet of a poacher or the poisoned arrow of an illegal hunter.
The showcasing and display of the remains of Big Tim shall be a perfectavenue for creation of an awareness platform of elephant conservation and further reinforce that tusks truly do belong to elephants and only elephants. Rest in Peace Big Tim.
The author is an Advocate of the High Court, Principal Partner at Juliet Nyangai& Company Advocates and a nature lover. She is passionate about Conservation and Animal Welfare.
Ms J.O Nyangái can be reached on: Twitter: @nyangaij Email: [email protected]