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Rhino statues 'greened' for conservation awareness

Environmental/Climate Change, News/feature, Kenya, Ireland, 2017
Kyela Lankeu Green Rhinos

The rhino statues (Kyela & Lankeu) greened by the Embassy this year are modelled on a mother and baby African rhino pair living safely in Nairobi National Park.

On Tuesday March 14th, the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya launched Ireland's second 'Greening' in Kenya, in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service. The #GreenRhinos initiative builds on a programme launched last year when the Embassy ‘greened’ a fibreglass model of Ahmed, an iconic Kenyan elephant. Ahmed of Marsabit National Park is an important symbol of the conservation movement in Kenya, as he was granted 24-hour protection by the then President Jomo Kenyatta in 1970, and lived to the age of 55. The model located in the National Museum in Nairobi was greened by the Embassy in 2016.

Why are we ‘Greening’ Rhinos this year?

First, through the Global Greening we are celebrating Ireland’s presence and influence abroad. In particular through the #GreenRhinos initiative we are recognising Ireland’s long and excellent relationship with the Kenyan people which spans over 100 years – while at the same time using the opportunity to highlight an issue of national importance to the Kenyan people! The Embassy is dedicated to bringing awareness to the plight of the rhino in Kenya and have been supporting the #GreenRhinos campaign through their social media channels. The social media campaign aims to inform the public of the need to conserve the rhinos but also highlights the fantastic work being undertaken by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Second, Rhinos are a fantastic icon of Kenyan life and heritage. Not only do they represent the incredible beauty and diversity of Kenya’s wildlife – they also are deeply linked to Kenya’s history and its tourist industry. For many people around the world, Kenya is best known for its natural beauty and environmental bio-diversity.

Third, Rhinos are endangered through poaching and the numbers of black Rhinos in Kenya have decreased from 20,000 in the 1970’s to approx. 650 in 2017. Illegal demand for Rhino horn resulting in poaching constitutes a huge threat to the persistence of all species of African Rhinos.

Finally, Kenya is responding effectively to the problem. While Rhinos remain endangered across the African continent, huge strides have been made in Kenya, over recent years, to address this situation. This has contributed to an 80% decline in the numbers of Rhinos killed in the country since 2013.

The Embassy want to use this years 'Greening' both to draw attention to Ireland's relationship with Kenya but also to highlight the extent that this wonderful creature is endangered. This danger was brought into sharp focus on the very day this initiative was launched, by the discovery of 21 Rhino horns in a suitcase in Bangkok airport for sale in Asian markets. The Embassy hopes to continue the ‘greening’ initiative in future years by working with the Kenyan government to highlight in turn each of the ‘Big 5’ and the protection measures being put in place – African Lion, African Leopard, and Cape Buffalo.