Kenya Wildlife Service and the Embassy of Ireland have symbolically ‘greened’ Kenyan iconic rhinos “ Kyela and Lankeu” to draw attention to conservation efforts.
The colourful occasion presided over by Ireland ambassador to Kenya, Dr Vincent O’Neill also marked the beginning of the campaign #GreenRhinos as part of global St Patrick’s celebrations.
Dr O’Neill said the “greening” of rhinos this year was to celebrate Ireland’s presence and influence abroad, recognize the fact that rhinos are a “fantastic icon of Kenyan life and heritage” endangered through poaching and that Kenya was responding effectively to the problem.
Dr O’Neill said: “In highlighting this, we want to commend Kenya for the huge progress it has made in addressing this global problem,” adding, “Because of these efforts, the number of rhinos killed by poachers in Kenya has greatly reduced over the years.”
KWS Director General Kitili Mbathi expressed Kenya’s concern over new moves to legalize trade in domestic markets for rhino horn in South Africa, especially proposed partial lifting of the ban in the export of rhino horn by allowing foreigners to export two rhino horns for “personal purposes”.
Mr Mbathi said: “We shudder to think of the potential increase in poaching we could be faced with if the South African proposals are approved,” adding that the move would “create the sort of increased demand we saw when trade in ivory was temporarily relaxed for a few south African countries in previous years.”
St. Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s National Day and is celebrated on the 17th of March every year. To mark this day, and recognizing that Green is the national colour of Ireland, Tourism Ireland’s 8th Annual Global Greening initiative will see some
of the world’s most famous attractions and sites going Green.
Dr O’Neill said: “Through the #GreenRhinos initiative, we are showing our support for the hugely important efforts being made in Kenya to stop the illegal slaughter of these wonderful animals so they can thrive for many generations to come.”
The Kenyan #GreenRhinos joined Colosseum in Rome, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and Ground Zero in New York in becoming “green” to coincide with the global celebration of St Patrick’s Day. This year, the global ‘Greening’ will span mainland Europe, Great Britain, North America as well as Australia, South Africa, Kenya and United Arab Emirates among others.