Jamaican Sprinter Usain Bolt Names and Adopts Kenyan Cheetah
Date Published: 03 Nov, 2009
Jamaican sprinter and 100m world record holder Usain St Leo Bolt yesterday November 2, 2009 named a three-month Kenyan cheetah cub ‘Lightning Bolt’ at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage and adopted it.
This marked the official launch of the Namayiana Wildlife Adoption Programme by the Kenyan Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, who also named an eight-month lion ‘Agwambo’ and adopted it as well. The Prime Minister’s daughter Rosemary also named a lioness ‘Safi’ and adopted it.
The function was attended by Forestry Wildlife Minister Hon Dr Noah Wekesa, United Nations Environmental Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner, Tourism Minister Hon. Najib Balala, and Hon. George Thuo, Government Chief Whip, among other dignitaries.
Sports goods maker Puma chief executive and Zeitz Foundation founder Jochen Zeitz was conferred with honorary warden status, a friend of Kenya’s widlife. He was also issued an annual pass to all Kenyan national parks and reserves.
Former 110m world hurdling record holder Colin Jackson named an eland ‘Colin’ and adopted it during the function.
The Namayiana Wildlife Adoption Programme is one of the activities KWS is rolling out in the build up to the launch of an endowment fund to support Kenya’s wildlife heritage.
The fund seeks to raise Sh7.5 billion (US$100 million) over 10 years to facilitate conservation of Kenya’s wildlife through challenges of climate change, drought, changing land use and high population growth. The fund is also meant to cushion wildlife conservation from over-reliance on volatile tourism trends. The kitty will support wildlife and community conservation efforts for generations to come, and will be used for security operations, research and monitoring, translocations, infrastructure, conservation education and other conservation requirements. So far Sh22, 000,000 (US$ 293,000) has been raised for the fund. This includes Sh20 million set aside by the Kenya Wildlife Service, Sh380,000 from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Sh496,750 from the Cycle with the Rhino, Dr Scott Rogers Sh12,500. And 1,074,000 raised by KWS staff.
Expected contributors to the fund include the Kenyan government, bilateral donors, visitors, foundations, private companies and concerned Kenyans. A new dynamic website to be launched soon has a provision for online donations.
Mr. Odinga said he hoped that the launch of the programme marked the beginning of greater collaboration to create sustainable, ecologically and socially responsible ecosystems that protect the integrity of the environment and the culture and people living in it.
Mr Odinga noted that wildlife conservation is an expensive exercise and KWS requires the support of each of our citizens and friends to achieve its goals.
“Today, as a demonstration of my committment to the conservation of our nature and wildlife in particular, I have adopted a lion whose mother was killed due to human wildlife conflict in Samburu,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that Kenya is rich in biodiversity with around 25,000 species of animal and 7,000 species of plants recorded so far. However, the biodiversity is under threat from a variety of sources.
“The threat does not affect only the plants and animals. In the end, it becomes a pocket, bread and butter issue as it affects our economy.”
The Prime Minister cited the black and the white rhino; the Roan Antelope, the Hirola; Eastern red colobus; Tana crested mangabey; and the Sable antelope as among some of the threatened species.
He said: “Yet tourism based on the uniqueness our biodiversity remains a top earner of foreign exchange for our economy.”
Mr Odinga noted that without concerted research and focused conservation, Kenya was likely to lose unique animal species, some of which were endemic to the country.
“As KWS struggles on the one hand to conserve our species, the rest of Kenyans must also do their part by taking conservation as a civic duty that all citizens owe their country,” he said.
He added that the government was aware that animal and plant species were declining because of loss of range, hunting, competition with domestic livestock for critical resources, disease and predation.
“As we lend support to tourism and our wildlife, we must see this sector as a package that includes preservation not just of the animals and beaches but also our forests,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the degradation ofMt. Kenya, Aberdares, Mt. Elgon, Mau Forest Complex Ecosystem, Cherangany Forests among others meant destruction of the habitat of the wild animals that bring in the tourist.
“It also means destruction of our beaches through increasing siltation, disappearance of mangroves and other under water life.”
He challenged athletes and other high profile sports personalities and professionals to follow Mr Bolt’s and Mr Zeit’s example by championing causes that are dear to our nation.
“Some of our great athletes like Paul Tergat and Tecla Lorupe have already hit the tracks championing worthy causes like peace between communities. Let others join them,” he said.
The Animal Adoption Programme gives individuals and corporates a chance to sponsor and consequently adopt an animal at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage with 50 per cent of the sponsorship going to the conservation fund and the rest catering for the animal’s yearly upkeep. Each animal is divided into shares based on the cost of its yearly upkeep. Namayiana is a Maasai word for ‘the blessed one’.
Nairobi Animal Orphanage is famed for its world-reknowned efforts to care for abducted, abandoned and injured wild animals.With animals from as as far as West Africa, the facility has wild animals of all kinds and species. The animals are used for educational and research purposes.