Endangered Black Rhinos Dead at New Sanctuary Home Deserve Justice

Target: Najib Balala, Minister of Kenya Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife

Goal: Hold individuals and organizations responsible for black rhino deaths.

Kenya accounts for more than one-tenth of the critically endangered black rhino population worldwide. In the past month, however, nine of these national treasures were lost in a state-sponsored conservation effort that went horribly wrong. The number lost in just one endeavor eclipses the total number of endangered rhinos killed in similar efforts within the previous twelve years.

The nine fallen rhinos were part of a group of 11 that were being taken to Tsavo East National Park by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Once they reached their new home, eight of the rhinos fell ill and died, with a ninth passing away a short time later. Authorities have theorized the causes of death to range from salt poisoning to heatstroke, but the investigation is ongoing.

This tragedy follows trying times for the beleaguered rhino species. Poachers allegedly murdered three black rhinos a few short months ago in Kenya; the heartless actions of human hunters have already driven the total population of black rhinos down to a little over 5,000. And earlier this year, the world lost its only remaining male northern white rhino, Sudan, to illness.

Help ensure the black rhino does not meet the same bleak fate. Demand Kenyan leaders find justice for the latest casualties and, moreover, do everything within their power to protect a vulnerable species that calls Kenya home.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Balala,

In the wild, black rhinos face no imminent threats. As a species, these magnificent animals should be thriving. Yet as their numbers have dwindled into the thousands; they stand at the top of the endangered species list: a testament to man’s continued greed and carelessness.

Since Africa remains the only continent in the world where these animals still roam freely, and since  Kenya remains their most prominent home, you have a special gift and an even more special responsibility. Recently, nine black rhinos lost their lives in circumstances that likely could have been avoided with proper care. Please take the investigation into these senseless deaths seriously, and hold those who may be responsible fully accountable.

Most importantly, prioritize a full scope of protections for endangered black rhinos and punish those who would callously steal their lives. Take action before these natural wonders, potentially like the white rhino, are lost forever to history.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gerry Zambonin

Support Harsher Sentences for Wildlife Poachers

Target: Najib Balala, Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya

Goal: Support the decision to enact more stringent laws to protect Kenya’s wildlife by making poaching a capital offense.

Following the tragic death of Sudan, the last male white rhino left on earth, Kenya has announced its intention to strengthen laws against wildlife poaching and ensure that criminals who break these laws face the most severe consequences. Kenya’s Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, made the announcement at an event to launch a commemorative stamp in honor of Sudan and raise awareness of the plight of animals like the white rhino. The new laws will face offenders of wildlife poaching with capital punishment.

Balala stated, “We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of $200,000 U.S. dollars. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.” He says that under the new laws, “offenders of wildlife crimes will face the death penalty in accordance with the laws of the land.” This is a momentous stand for humanity, compassion, and the preservation of wildlife. Sign below to support Kenya’s dedication to treating poaching as the serious offense it is, and ensuring that it is not condoned or tolerated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Balala,

Your statement of Kenya’s intent to strengthen the consequences of and laws against poaching are an important victory for wildlife preservation and for humanity. Poaching is an inhumane and unacceptable crime. Thank you for recognizing that and taking action to discourage and punish poachers for breaking the laws of the land.

As you stated, the laws Kenya currently has in place are evidently insufficient in curbing poaching. Additionally, the move to make wildlife poaching a capital offense sets a positive example for other countries where poaching is a widespread problem. I support these new laws, and I thank you for taking a stand to protect wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bernard Spragg

Regulate Electronic Waste to Protect Waterways and Public Health

Target: Kepha Ombacho, Kenya’s Director of Public Health

Goal: Create and implement policy to regulate e-waste, protecting environmental and public health.

Kenya generates 44,000 tons of electronic waste (any device that uses a plug or battery) each year, posing great public and environmental health hazards. Electronic waste is a huge problem across the world, with 45 million tons produced in 2016, but in Kenya, this waste is not regulated. This is a growing problem for waterways such as the Nairobi River, where e-waste is dumped and toxins are distributed to agricultural areas. While there are three facilities licensed to handle e-waste, they are all currently running under capacity because of a lack of awareness about the dangers of e-waste and how to dispose of it properly.

A rise in income and a decline in electronics prices have contributed to this problem. Kenya also receives large amounts of e-waste from Europe, which is a common practice for developing countries. Across Southeast Asia, many landfill workers make money from recycling electronic parts or separating precious metals from the plastics. Direct contact with dangerous materials like lead, cadmium, and chromium are associated with developmental and behavioral problems, especially with children. In addition, these toxins accumulate in soil, waterways, and food.

Regulating e-waste has the potential to increase awareness about proper disposal practices not just with electronic waste, but with plastic waste. It also has the potential to turn the conversation to harmful consumer behaviors. Consumers often discard older electronic models when they still work or keep broken ones in their homes without disposing of them properly. Kenya’s government must implement a policy to regulate e-waste before it causes any more damage to the environment and its people. Sign the petition below to urge the Kenya’s director of public health to push for this legislation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Ombacho,

Electronic waste is a huge problem across the world, but it is even more so in Kenya, where 44,000 unregulated tons are produced each year. Because there is no policy regulating e-waste, it is common practice to dump it into waterways, streets, and regular garbage bins. Electronic waste is highly detrimental to human health; it causes developmental and behavioral problems, especially in children. Toxins from e-waste also accumulate in soil, waterways, and food. The Nairobi River is now an awful e-waste dumpsite, and the rest of Kenya’s waterways are affected.

Kenya can make a positive impact on global e-waste by implementing a policy to regulate it. This waste has potential to improve recycling for all types of garbage, such as plastic. It can also help steer the conservation to changing consumer habits, not only regarding proper waste disposal and recycling, but also being mindful of purchasing new electronics when old ones can be repaired or traded in. Although widespread access to electronics may signal social and technological progress, we must ensure that it does not cause environmental degradation and public health deterioration. I hope that you implement a policy to regulate e-waste and help protect environmental and public health.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sascha Pohflepp