As a prelude to tomorrow’s Kenya Forum article, ‘THE KILLING OF KENYA’S WILDLIFE (PART 2) – A CATASTROPHE IN THE MAKING’, we reproduce below a press release issued by Ecotourism Kenya on Saturday 31 March. Perhaps it should have been entitled ‘Shooting the messenger…’
CHARGE AGAINST TOURISM EXPERT DROPPED
A criminal charge against the Ecotourism Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kahindi Lekalhaile was dropped on Thursday morning at 9.30am, 29th March 2012 after [Kenya Wildlife Service] KWS withdrew its complaint against the expert. The cash bail was also returned. Mr. Kahindi had been arrested by CID officers from Langata Police Station on Monday, 19th March 2012 [see The Star news report] following his opinion published in a newspaper article recently that the number of elephant killed in Kenya last year was possibly 10 times more than the official figure stated by the KWS Director, Dr. Julius Kipngetich. His arrest triggered a global outcry by Ecotourism Kenya members, Tourism Practioners and conservation activists, especially through social media and the press.
On Wednesday evening, the Ecotourism Kenya Board, including Mr. Kahindi, held a lengthy meeting with Dr. Kipngetich to address and resolve the case given the escalating wildlife poaching in the country and threats to tourism business in wildlife sanctuaries, including national parks and reserves. Both Ecotourism Kenya and Kenya Wildlife Service agreed that all forms of poaching must be controlled and eliminated urgently to safeguard the integrity of coastal and inland tourism attractions. Dr. Kipngetich explained that KWS was working hard to combat ivory poaching and other forms of wildlife persecution.
The KWS Director assured Ecotourism Kenya that KWS strives to find all elephant mortality especially those arising from illegal killings. On the other hand, Mr. Kahindi reiterated that he stood by his speculative figure of dead elephants in 2011 which is based on anecdotal evidence and reports from many tour operators and local communities operating wildlife conservancies in elephant-rich areas, whereby elephant poaching was reported throughout the year to date.
Therefore, both KWS and Ecotourism Kenya agreed to exchange reports of dead elephants and rhinos promptly and candidly henceforth. Ecotourism Kenya will continue to highlight the poaching problem within its ability and also support efforts by KWS and other stakeholders in eliminating the problem. It was on the basis of this agreement that KWS withdrew its charge on Mr. Kahindi to facilitate cooperation and collaboration in effort to combat poaching in Kenya.
Ecotourism Kenya wishes to thank all its members and supporters throughout the world for their interest to address the rampant elephant poaching in Kenya. Let us all protect our precious wildlife resources.