True to this year’s global theme, ‘Listen to the Young Voices’, the World Animal Day Celebrations at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium was well attended by pupils and students from local primary and high schools on March 3, 2017. This year’s theme drew hundreds of young participants from across the country to the event, who voiced their thoughts on conservation through music, dance and a story writing competition.Officiated by Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General Kitili Mbathi, the event drew hundreds of Kenyans to the stadium.
Both dignitaries encouraged the youth to continue pursuing conservation initiatives that would ensure protection and continuity of the country’s national heritage. These sentiments are supported by ANAW, as we work to empower young men in Kasigau ranch as wildlife guardians. The guardians patrol the 53,000-acre ranch to protect resident and migratory species including elephants moving from Tsavo West National Park to Tsavo East National Park. They have not only gained increased knowledge and appreciation of animal welfare and conservation but through this initiative, have had a positive impact in the community which has seen the rate of poaching and human-wildlife conflict reduce by up to 93% in 2016.
Speeches from representatives from key government officials and conservation stakeholders were given. Children entertained guests with creative dances and songs and winners of a competition that involved 25 schools – 10 of which were primary schools, 10 secondary and 5 from tertiary institutions – read out their essays after receiving trophies and gift vouchers.
The day had begun with a 3.3 km band procession from Lake Nakuru National Park to Afraha Stadium. Also joining the band were representatives from Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), Born Free Foundation, Elephant Neighbours Centre, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA), TED talks, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) among others.