Elephant naming in kenya 1
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says the recently concluded National Wildlife Census gave the government a basis of identifying the species that require more conservation attention. [ Photo / Bornfree.org.uk ]

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says Wildlife conservation is an expensive undertaking, and is appealing to partners and sponsors to join hands with the government in conservation initiatives.

“Conservation of wildlife resources requires us to be innovative because it is not cheap, and this is the reason we came up with Tembo Naming initiative to raise funds and also ensure that the public plays a role in conservation,” Mr Balala says. “We don’t have to build fences and water pans for wildlife, you as the public or organizations can be our partner and do it, and be part of this great festival.”

Mr Balala was speaking at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters, Nairobi, where he received the second batch of contributions from sponsors towards the Tembo Naming festival slated for 8th and 9th October, 2021, in Amboseli National Park to support elephant conservation. The CS Balala said the recently concluded National Wildlife Census gave the government a basis of identifying the species that require more conservation attention.

Magical Kenya Tembo Naming Festival (MKTNF) is a sustainability mechanism to champion elephant conservation in Kenya modelled on the gorilla naming ceremony of Rwanda. Magical Kenya Tembo naming festival offers individuals and organisations an opportunity to support conservation effort.

While Kenya’s version of wild animals naming is purely a conservative initiative, Rwanda has been naming infant mountain gorillas since 2005 in what has become an important annual nationwide tradition in Rwanda. The naming ceremony is based on a historic Rwandan cultural practice for naming newborns in front of family and friends, and has been adapted to celebrate successful gorilla protection and conservation.

In Kenya, the festival seeks to secure a future for elephants and their habitats in peaceful co-existence with humans while providing benefits and for posterity.

“The national wildlife census was a historic opportunity to develop an inventory of our wildlife resources, in recognition of their place as strategic national assets,” said Mr Balala. “Today, Kenya has 36,280 Savanna elephants up from 34,000 elephants recorded in 2017, we have to ensure that we sustain this. We also know that we have other endangered species that require our attention including the rhino, Sable and Roan antelopes among others.”

From as low as Ksh1,000 for individuals and Ksh50,000 for corporates one can qualify to be an adopting parent. However, for one to name they must donate a minimum Ksh500,000. During the event, the CS received a total contribution of Ksh3 million towards the initiative from the East African Breweries Ltd, Elephant Cooperation, Twiga Tours, and Animal Adoption Advocacy LLc.


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So far, the Magical Kenya Tembo Naming festival has received a total of Ksh10 million with other contributions expected before the naming event. The naming ceremony will allow individuals and organizations to give names to selected elephants after donating funds towards the program which is aimed at boosting conservation efforts of endangered wildlife species.

“We should not wait for outsiders to come and help us to conserve our resources,” said KWS Director General, Brig. (Rtd.) John Waweru. “We as Kenyans can do it by ourselves, people should know that this is not restricted to corporations, individuals can also come out and adopt their heritage.”

The Kenya Tourism Board CEO, Dr Betty Radier, said Kenya is blessed with wildlife resources and people come from all over the world to spend billions to see them. “Conservation is something that should be a concern for each and every one of us because it also has an impact on our tourism industry,” she said.

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