Why Trophy Hunting in Kenya Closed in 1977

I understand that the Kenyan elephant poaching legend can be related as follows: Ngina Kenyatta, the wife of Jomo Kenyatta (i.e. The First Lady in the Land in those days) – and a whole phalanx of Kenyatta family members and business cronies (headed by Ngina – and Margaret Wamba, Kenyatta’s daughter by a previous marriage) – began poaching Kenya’s elephants and black rhinos in 1970. In 1970, Kenya’s elephants were said to then number 275 000. Ngina employed Kenyan village hunters, and gave them immunity from arrest, for the next 20 years – by which time Kenya’s elephants were said to have been reduced to 20 000.

In the 1970s, Nginya’s hunters were said to have also killed 10 000 black rhinos.  In the 1970s, the Kenyan White Hunters Guild was still conducting legal trophy hunting safaris into the wilds of Kenya. And they came across the carcasses of the thousands of elephants and rhinos that had been killed by the poachers that Ngina had employed. And the fact that she was doing this poaching was not a secret. It was well known in Kenya at that time – but whistle-blowers were afraid of Jomo Kenyatta. And, in a bid to stop the poaching (which was adversely affecting the white hunters’ legitimate safari hunting businesses) the safari hunters were taking verbatim reports of the massive scale of the poaching to the international community of journalists that swamped Nairobi in those days. Consequently the killing of these elephants and rhinos  by Ngina’s poachers, was being reported in American (the Huffington Post had a lot to say about it), British and European Newspapers of that time.   So, to remove the criticism that was being leveled at her (and at her family) Nginya used her political influence to ban ALL hunting in Kenya.  She was the one who arranged the hunting ban.  It was not Jomo.  And THAT was the real reason why hunting was stopped in Kenya in 1977.  And Ngina, apparently, carried on poaching elephants in Kenya for more than another decade.

Much has been said of the idea that hunting in Kenya was stopped (in 1977) because the newly independent all black Kenyatta government did not like the idea of professional white hunters (as Kenya’s Professional Hunter Safari Outfitters  were called in those day) hunting the country’s magnificent elephants and rhinos. The illusion created was that the hunting was stopped to ‘save’ Kenya’s elephants from “terrible and cruel” hunters.  From the reports I have read, it was nothing like that at all.  The hunting was stopped (by Ngina)  for one reason and one reason only – to eliminate “the opposition” to Ngina’s poaching activities.  If the professional safari operators were not allowed to operate, they had no reason to be “in the field”.  So they could not then discover and report upon Ngina’s latest poaching exploits.   Simple as that.

This will be denied, or course. So I would like to see some creative investigative journalist take up the cudgels and prove that this story is, in fact, true. It will stop all the lies that still come out of CITES – about, for example, poaching “spikes” that CITES claim happen every time CITES allows a small batch of elephant tusks (or rhino horns) to be sold on the open market.  When it was the political elite doing the poaching how does a poaching spike occur after a sale of ivory?  The political elite are not affected by CITES ivory-sale-permissions in any way at all.  After all, a state president can poach elephants whenever he wanted to poach them. So the CITES story about poaching spikes are all lies. And they continue to be lies.  South African rhino farmers are not able to sell their legal rhino horns – and Zimbabwe is being forbidden to sell its ivory – because “the international establishment” (local and abroad)  insist that legal sales will promote poaching activity.  And, when the poachers are actually the political elite,  that “excuse” is simply not true.  So let us get this whole can of worms out in the open.

And, if the investigative journalist looks further, he will find that between 1978 and 2012, there was an even bigger slaughter of elephants and rhinos in Tanzania; and there were other large kills made in Mozambique; Zimbabwe and Zambia. All conducted, it would seem, by the local political elites at that time.

The proof is all “there”.  It has all be written about in overseas newspapers. All it needs to reveal the truth is a journalist with some savvy and a little bit of “oooomph”.  Indeed, they can get their initial information from my book: “ELEPHANT CONSERVATION – The Facts and the Fiction”.

I really hate it when I see the closure of hunting in Kenya in 1977, being recorded with such blandness. The story surrounding the closure of hunting in Kenya in 1977 is, in fact, a huge saga that deserves to be fully exposed. And, if it is told properly, it will expose the duplicity of CITES and of the animal rightists NGOs in Nairobi, too – because they MUST all have known about what was going on.

A little spoon to stir the pot!!!!!!!

Ron Thomson

Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience: www.ronthomsonshuntingbooks.co.za.

Ron Thomson has 222 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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