LENDING A HAND: Dr Paula Kahumbu, CEO of the Kenyan Conservation NGO WildlifeDirect, led the hard-hitting Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign with Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Kenyatta.
Cape Town - With World Elephant Day approaching on Sunday, passionate conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu is campaigning to raise awareness of the elephant poaching crisis in Africa and the rising figures of poaching in South Africa.

As the chief executive of WildlifeDirect, Kahumbu has travelled across Africa targeting policymakers in partnership with the South African company Amarula and the non-profit Amarula Trust to legislate laws that protect elephants from poaching and raise public awareness.

Though the government has not declared elephant poaching a crisis, Kahumbu says the situation has been getting worse.

“South Africa is experiencing a rise in elephant poaching, while reports show that other African countries such as Kenya are seeing a decline.

“The loss of 68 elephants from the Kruger Park in the past year affects a whole herd,” she said, adding that elephants have brains that interpret the world much like people, and the loss of matriarchs causes the calves, who grow up fearing humans, to degenerate into delinquency.

Because they are a keystone species, the extinction of elephants would also affect other species and their habitats.

According to Kahumbu’s studies, the crisis is causing elephant populations to shrink all over Africa. With most poaching products destined to go out of South Africa’s seaports and airports, Kahumbu added: “The campaign has to be won on a global level, because the ivory trade is a transnational market.”

Kahumbu said that this Sunday the people of Cape Town should support the magnificent species by visiting and funding national parks like Kruger National Park.

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Cape Argus