U.S Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell concluded an official visit to Kenya by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Professor Judi Wakhungu, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Environment & Natural Resources, at NRT headquarters in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The MOU represents a pledge by both Kenya and the United States to collaborate on combating the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts, particularly elephant ivory and rhino horn.
U.S. Secretary Jewell is co-chair of President Obama’s Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, and toured Kenya to formalise new partnerships in the global fight to combat the illegal trade in wildlife. As part of her visit, she was joined by U.S Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec on a trip to NRT headquarters at Lewa, where they were met by NRT’s Director of Conservation Ian Craig and Chief Programmes Officer Tom Lalampaa, as well as USAID Kenya’s Karen Freeman. USAID support has been crucial to NRT and Lewa’s success in a decreasing elephant poaching in northern Kenya. The MOU between the Department, the Northern Rangelands Trust and USAID will further this partnership – which is not only reducing wildlife trafficking, but also conserving species and supporting sustainable economic development for communities in the region.
The U.S. Department of the Interior, in partnership with USAID, has said it will deepen its existing programs to work with the Kenyan government and civil society to build on recent successes in Kenya. The support will provide resources, technical expertise and equipment to combat wildlife trafficking, increase communication, improve natural resources management, and support efforts to promote biodiversity conservation in conjunction with sustainable economic activities.
“Many African countries are taking bold steps to combat wildlife trafficking within their borders, but this growing international epidemic requires leadership across governments to put an end to the crisis,” said Secretary Jewell. “By strengthening our strategic partnership with Kenya, we will work together to crack down on this illegal trade that is threatening to wipe out entire species and push others to the brink of extinction. This is an international problem that requires international solutions and we will continue to work with concerned African leaders who have shown the leadership and commitment to put an end to wildlife trafficking.”
Jewell and Godec also met with Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, Chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service Board of Trustees Dr. Richard Leakey; and other senior government leaders. Jewell held a roundtable discussion on wildlife trafficking with non-governmental organizations and conservation leaders, and participated in a wreath laying ceremony at Kenya Wildlife Service’s Conservation Heroes Monument to honor rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Jewell also visited the Port of Mombasa, East Africa’s largest port and a major transit hub for illegal wildlife destined for Asia.
Secretary Jewell will next travel to South Africa for the final portion of her visit to Africa.