Kenyan animal advocates keep working despite post-election violence
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2008:
NAIROBI–More than 150 of the estimated 530 mob and 82 police
killings wracking Kenya during the four weeks after the disputed
outcome of the December 27, 2007 national election came in Kibera,
a shantytown just a stray bullet’s distance from the headquarters of
the Kenya Wildlife Service, KWS animal orphanage, Nairobi National
Park, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant and rhino
orphanage, the Kenya SPCA, and the offices of Youth for
Conservation and the African Network for Animal Welfare.
They had all escaped the violence, as of press time for the
January/February 2008 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE.
Wildlife refuges elsewhere in Kenya were also imperiled. “A
few dozen miles from the Masai Mara game reserve in Narok,” reported
Associated Press on January 19, “Masai fighters and men from
President Mwai Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe battled for hours with machetes,
clubs, swords and bows and arrows. Five people were killed and 25
wounded, police chief Patrick Wambani said. Homes and shops were set
ANAW founder Josphat Ngonyo, whose salary is paid by ANIMAL
PEOPLE, mobilized to help the Kenya SPCA assist the animals of
internally displaced Kenyans.
“Our big concern is a shortage of food for the dogs and
cats,” Kenya SPCA executive director Jean Gilchrist told ANIMAL
PEOPLE. The Kenya SPCA already housed more than 100 dogs and 35 cats
when the trouble started.
“I traveled upcountry on December 22 to celebrate Christmas
with my family,” Youth for Conservation president Steve Itela
e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on January 5, 2008 from Busia, 300 miles
west of Nairobi at the boarder of Kenya and Uganda. “This region
voted overwhelmingly for Raila Odinga, butKibaki managed to get 25%.”
When the violence started, Itela was isolated for five days
with “no internet connection, no newspapers, no air time to call
people in Nairobi, and very limited information from the radio
except rumors that youth were blocking the roads and demanding cash
and food,” he said.
Safari Club ally defeated
On January 8, Itela updated, “We managed to get back to
Nairobi under military escort. I saw thousands of people seeking
safety at police stations, without food and shelter. Most had no
homes to return to after they were burnt.
“I am happy about the parliamentary results of the just
concluded election,” Itela added. “Kenyans voted out many
individuals who served the government for personal gain. We hope the
new leaders will protect Kenya’s wildlife. J. J. Kariuki,” a
legislator who sought to re-introduce sport hunting to Kenya, with
Safari Club International support, “lost his seat,” as did minister
for tourism and wildlife Morris Dzoro.
“In Dzora’s tenure,” recalled Itela, “we faced the
attempted export of 175 animals to a zoo in Thailand,” which YfC
pressure thwarted, and “illegal degazettment of Amboseli National
Park,” in September 2005, two months before a national
“We are currently dealing with a secret memorandum of
understanding for the Kenya Wildlife Servce to hand over management
of Amboseli to the Olkejuado County Council,” Itela said. “This
agreement, contradicting a contempt of court order issued in 2005,
was signed to lure the Massai community living next to Amboseli to
vote for Kibaki in the just concluded elections.”
By January 18, Itela e-mailed, “All staff and volunteers of
YfC are safe and have reported back to work. Some of our members
from Eldoret, Kisumu, and parts of western Kenya are now living in
camps where security is provided by the government. This morning,
YfC staff and the Nairobi Pentecostal Church of Karen distributed
food and clothing to about 2,300 internally displaced persons from
the Kibera slums. YfC’s office is next to Kibera,” Itela said,
“but we are safe except that we hear a lot of gunshots daily, as
rioters engage police in running battles.”
World Society for the Protection of Animals representative
Nick De Souza and family were away when the rioting started in
Nairobi, as was David Sheldrick Trust founder Daphne Sheldrick and
her daughter Angela.
“They and the rest of the family are all well as is everyone
at the Trust,” e-mailed Sheldrick Trust staff member Lina Sideras.
<www.anaw.org>, or c/o ANIMAL PEOPLE, P.O. Box 960, Clinton, WA