WWF in Action: Kenya

Grassroots Efforts Spans 650 miles to End the Illegal Ivory Trade in Kenya

In the race to save elephants, Jim Nyamu is taking it slow.

A Kenyan native, Nyamu has dedicated his life and career to saving the dwindling elephant population from illegal poaching in Eastern Africa. He raised awareness by walking more than 650 miles from Massai Mara to Nairobi on a campaign called Ivory Belongs to Elephants.

“It’s wonderful to see people stand up and take action for what they believe in,” said Niall O’Connor, a WWF representative who joined the walk. “I fully support what Jim is doing. Wildlife trade is big and it is organized. We need to support the government to pass legislation that will end the [illegal wildlife] trade.”

From 2004 to 2012, Nyamu worked as a research scientist and elephant specialist with the African Conservation Center. In 2012, he was awarded a grant from WWF’s Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program. The program provides support for mid-career conservationists to pursue short-term, non-degree training and upgrade their knowledge and skills. These grants provide the tools necessary for professionals to advance in their careers and improve local capacity in their home countries.

Shortly after receiving the grant, Nyamu co-founded the Elephant Neighbors Centera non-governmental organization whose mission is to protect African elephants and secure landscape for the endangered species outside protected areas. He and his colleagues are working to change national policy and draw attention to the issues and dangers of wildlife poaching through grassroots efforts.

Nyamu completed the walk, but the fight to stop illegal poaching and increase efforts to protect elephants still continues. WWF works to push governments to protect threatened animal populations and reduce demand for illegal wildlife parts and products.

Nyamu is a wonderful example of how one individual can make a difference in this ongoing effort.

Photo © Johnston Mulary