At present, Kenya is facing a poaching crisis of staggering proportions. News outlets have been ablaze with tragic stories of poaching and would be smugglers arrested on their way out of the country with precious tusks, cruelly taken from their now-deceased original owners.
Recent reports have indicated that Kenya now has 107 species of animal listed as endangered animals, meaning they are at risk of extinction. The famous “big five” that have driven Kenyan tourism have not fared any better, with about 2,000 lions left in the wild alongside a disheartening 1,000 rhinos. With the concept of these and other species ceasing to exist in our country, it has now become a patriotic and humanitarian duty for all citizens to pitch in. Conservation efforts, no matter how small are now needed from every corner possible, and the logistics industry has not been left behind.
Media reports abound of individuals apprehended while trying to get ill-begotten animal parts out of the country, such as the recent arrest of a Chinese national attempting to smuggle ivory out of the country disguised as packs of macadamia nuts, as a result of careful screening by airport personnel. Employees within the supply chain management industry are often our first line of defense when it comes to poachers.
Keen inspection of cargo before it leaves Kenyan ports or boarders as well as screening of passenger luggage will go a long way towards ensuring our children get a chance to see a live lion in their day.
Closely related to this is the process of training. Employees handling must be trained to detect possible smuggling of poaching-related goods such as disguised ivory. Similarly, education on identifying endangered animals attempting to be shipped out of the country would help curb the decline of these species headed for sale as exotic pets in foreign markets, such as Dubai where owning a pet lion or cheetah is considered an enviable luxury.
Supply chain management players can also build good relationships with authorities regulating poaching, such as the Kenya Wildlife Service or even the local police. Through such cooperation, training can be provided to logistics employees on the best way forward in reporting suspected poachers and animal smugglers, or confiscating the animal or animal parts prior to arrival of authorities.
Speed and efficiency of response would also increase if key logistics personnel had direct access to security forces when reporting suspicious incidents, leading to faster arrests and a reduced risk of the suspect escaping. Perhaps a synchronized radio channel or dedicated phone line?
The general public, including corporate, can also lend a hand to conservation efforts through traditional CSR endeavors. By offering sponsorship of projects such as the fencing of the Mau project, designed to help reduce human-animal conflicts that result in the murder of elephants in defense of human life, we can help slow the shrinkage of wild animal numbers. Participating in efforts to sensitize the public on the need for conservation, such as the current “Hands off Our Elephants” campaign is also a possibility for firms in our industry, whether by offering financial aid to run such calls for action, or providing employee volunteers for events designed to increase visibility.
When we picture our country 50 years from now, that image seems incomplete without the vision of our majestic lions, ever alert zebras or our favorite gentle giant jumbos. We as an industry refuse to sit back and let the next generation learn about rhinos that once roamed the savanna in text books. We have joined the fight to keep our animals, the soul of Africa, alive; have you?