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Kenyan Braves Miles for Elephants

Jim Nyamu flanked by the local community at a point during the 617km Nairobi - Marsabit Walk

A drastic decline in African elephant population has been largely attributed to poaching. According to the Great Elephant Census released at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii 2016, Africa now has 352,271 savanna elephants left in 93 percent of the species’ range. The survey conducted in 18 African countries revealed a worrying fact. In the 15 out of the 18 countries where previous population existed, 144,000 elephants had succumbed to poaching and habitat destruction.

Loss of elephant populations across Africa has led to increased conservation efforts.  Among them is the one Jim Justus Nyamu has adopted.

Jim Justus Nyamu is not just a regular account on Facebook. It’s a series of absolute accounts of endurance and sacrifice that Jim Nyamu has had to literary walk through in support of the Jumbos. I personally have never met Mr. Nyamu but I can derive a lot about him from many of his literal walks of freedom for Elephants.

2013 February, he covered 500 kilometers by foot from Mombasa to Nairobi followed by a walk from Maasai Mara to Nairobi later in May and June same year.

On October 4th 2013, as part of the International March for Elephants organized by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DWST) in over 15 cities across the world, Nyamu completed a 560-mile walk from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington DC.

Jim Nyamu is the executive director at Elephant Neighbors Center and a coordinator at the Southern Aberdares Wildlife Association, an Elephant research scientist and an anti-poaching and anti-ivory trade activist. He has previously worked at the Kenya Wildlife Service and the African Conservation Center.

Nyamu’s walks never go un-noticed and receive huge media coverage and recognition from all corners including both local and foreign government administrations. On the 14th November 2013, under the invitation of the Obama administration, Nyamu attended the Ivory crush at Denver, Colorado.

Kenya’s First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta who launched the East Africa Grass Root Elephant Education Campaign Walk in 2016 commended Nyamu before he undertook one of his most recent and longest walks across three East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The walk covered over 1988 miles in 126 days.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Regional Development Authorities, Prof. Judy Wakhungu has not only commended Nyamu for the role he has played in elephant conservation but has also joined him in the walks.

Prof Judy Wakhungu joined Nyamu at Karatina, image: Elephants Neighbors Center

Nyamu was one of the recipients for the Eco Warrior 2016, an award that recognizes outstanding contribution to ecotourism in Kenya. He is also a Honorary Warden.

He has covered almost 10,000 km in Kenya, Some of his other walks include:

  • Maasai Mara, Samburu/Laikipia – Mt. Kenya, Nairobi- 1710km
  • Meru Town – Meru park -230Km
  • Shimba hill – Lamu -515Km
  • Nanyuki, Nyeri – Nyandarua -405Km
  • Nyeri, Muranga- Ndakaini -190Km
  • Emali, Amboseli- Taveta, Voi -460Km
  • Nairobi and its environs -30Km

Currently, Nyamu and his team are in the final stretch of a walk from Nairobi to Marsabit that was flagged off by the Ambassador of Ireland to Kenya, H.E. Dr. Vincent O’Neill on 8th April 2017 at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi set to end today 9th May 2017. The walk covers 617 kms.

During the walks, Nyamu educates communities along the routes he takes about the plight of elephants, addresses ways of reducing and tackling human wildlife conflict and promotes community involvement and participation in conservation.  

About Mwaniki Mutugi (373 Articles)
<p>Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at the Nairobi-based Kiboko Kenya Safaris.</p>