Jim Nyamu, Kenyan founder and Director of Elephant Neighbors Center, who embarked on a walk from Kenya to South Africa on a campaign to raise awareness for the conservation of elephants has arrived in Bulawayo.
Elephant Neighbors Center (ENC), is a Non-Governmental Organization headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya that promotes peaceful co-existence between elephants and communities, with a mission to protect African elephants and secure their landscape outside protected areas.
CITE joined Nyamu in his walk from 20km peg outside Bulawayo to his destination at the Large city hall where he met the mayor Solomon Mguni.
In an interview with CITE Nyamu said his campaign needs financial support, political support and goodwill.
“For me to travel around the world there are a lot of finances needed to cater for food, accommodation and transport costs,” he exolained.
“Goodwill from people also goes a long way in making the cause meaningful, it motivates us.
“The most important support we need is from political players, protection of wild animals is a government’s duty and without approval of relevant political people this initiative would not be possible”.
Nyamu expressed concern over the increase in the inability to co-exist between community members and elephants.
“Most villagers got emotional when I talked to them about the importance of conserving elephants,” said Nyamu.
“They narrated to me how much destruction the animals have caused. Some have lost close relatives and friends while others had their properties destroyed”.
The environmentalist said there need for strong educational campaigns in how people can co-exist with wild animals.
“These are all matters of concern that need to be addressed,” he lamented.
“There has been an alarming rise in the number of elephant-human conflicts compared to previous years.
“It has also come at a time when elephants are on a steep decrease. People need to be taught how to co-exist with these animals.
He also decried fuel and water shortages that he experienced in the country.
“The largest challenge we faced was fuel shortage,” said Nyamu.
“This was a huge set back as we had to spend several hours queuing for fuel.
“We have suffered from inadequate water supplies. We need water all the time, not just for drinking”.
He added “Due to severe temperatures I suffered a terrible headache and ended up going to the hospital. As team leader I had to be strong despite the circumstances because we still have a long way ahead of us”.
Nyamu said elephants were special animals that need a lot of protection.
“When I worked as a scientist, some of the findings we did were china and America were the bigggest markets for ivory,” he said.
“Efforts were only made to convince these buyers out of doing so.
“No one ever took time to talk to the suppliers especially from African countries against selling ivory.
“In a space of twenty years most African countries have lost close to 30 000 elephants and such figures are worrying”.
They will become extinct faster than we think, he warned.
Mayor Mguni expressed his gratitude explaining the importance of the elephant to the city of Bulawayo as it is found on the city’s emblem.
The mayor also decried the decrease in the number of elephants in the countet since 2007 resulting mainly from poaching.
Nyamu is set to travel to Botswana and South Africa where his journey ends.
This is his 14th walk since 2013 when he began this campaign.
He has won two EcoWarrior awards from Eco Tourism in Kenya.