From Youth for Conservation to the Africa Network for Animal Welfare
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2006:
U.S. and European conservationists long ago narrowed their
goals to preserving an abundance of wildlife, whether to hunt,
watch, or to maintain biodiversity by preventing the extinction of
Youth for Conservation founder Josphat Ngonyo, of Kenya,
initially accepted a conventional American or European
perspective–but the more Ngonyo learned about animals and about the
feelings of fellow Africans, the more his outlook shifted. First he
began trying to become a vegetarian. Then he began to see potential
for providing Africa with a new kind of pro-animal leadership.
Youth for Conservation under Ngonyo received tremendous support from
fellow Kenyans, partly for anti-poaching and trash removal projects
that were and are the focal YfC program, but most enthusiastically
for two departures from mainstream conservation philosophy.
First, in December 2004, YfC with strong community backing
won a presidential veto of a stealth effort to repeal the 1977
national ban on sport hunting. The veto squarely rebuffed Safari
Club International and others who had hoped to turn Kenya into a
trophy-shooting gallery to replace Zimbabwe, now that Zimbabwe has
become hopelessly corrupted and destabilized by decades of CAMPFIRE,
the USAid-backed hunting program that served mainly to channel funds
into the pockets of Robert Mugabe regime insiders.
Second, Kenyans responded even more ardently when Ngonyo
stood up against a deal brokered by President Mwai Kibaki to export
170 or more animals to the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo in Thailand.
“After much soul-searching and many consultations with my
family, I have decided to take early retirement from Youth for
Conservation, effective on July 1, 2006, to fully pursue the vision
of creating the Africa Network for Animal Welfare,” Ngonyo e-mailed
to ANIMAL PEOPLE on April 4.
“This decision has been prompted by an investigation
that I carried out last August of the transportation of farmed
animals in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, commissioned by Compassion in
World Farming” Ngonyo elaborated. “There are also glaring
problems to be addressed involving the companion animals, including
the policy of shooting street dogs for fear of rabies and general
lack of appreciation of them as sentient beings. In order to
address these issues in addition to the problems facing wildlife, I
have founded the Africa Network for Animal Welfare. Like Youth for
Conservation, ANAW will be hands-on, and will focus on humane
education and awareness, policy and legislation advocacy, and
support of campaigns against poaching and consuming bush meat.
“I am giving three more months to Youth for Conservation to
enhance a smooth transition,” Ngonyo stipulated, “before taking
leave to build the foundation of ANAW. I have no doubt that Steve
Itela, the current YfC programs officer, whom I have spent much
time with, is well able to steer the organisation in the right
The formation of ANAW follows by five months the December
2005 debut of the Africa Animal Protection Network, an online forum
and information exchange coordinated by Yao Novalis of Ivory Coast,
sponsored by ANIMAL PEOPLE. An early role of the AAPN has been
distributing news updates to help the African humane community
respond to the spread of the avian flu H5N1 into Egypt, Nigeria,
Niger, Ghana, Sudan, and Ivory Coast.
The AAPN has also helped the Youth for Conservation campaign
against the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo animal sale.
The AAPN is only the latest of many ANIMAL PEOPLE initiatives
in Africa. In 2000 ANIMAL PEOPLE sponsored the formation of the
Homeless Animals Protection Society of Ethiopia, and for the past
year has paid the salaries of cofounders Efrem Legese and Hana Kifle.
HAPS debuted doing humane education and assisting with pet
sterilization and vaccination work in the vicinity of Bale National
Park. HAPS now operates a clinic and animal shelter in Addis Ababa,
the Ethiopian capital city, while continuing to do humane education
and advocacy on multiple fronts.
ANIMAL PEOPLE has also helped the HAPS, YfC, and AAPN
founders to take advantage of a variety of training and promotional
opportunities in the U.S., Europe, and even China.
Africa Animal Protection Network: