Kenyan celebrities have thrown their weight behind an ongoing global anti-poaching drive by launching a conservation campaign ahead of a planned ivory bonfire to be conducted by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) this Saturday.
Afro-pop band Sauti Sol, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and radio personality Caroline Mutoko have set up an anti-poaching campaign dubbed “hearts and minds” aimed at urging support for conservation and curbing wildlife crime.
Kenya is set to burn its largest haul of elephant tusks and rhino horn this weekend in an event that will be held at the Nairobi National Park with President Uhuru Kenyatta presiding.
Several heads of state, renowned conservationists, celebrities and other guests will also be present to watch 100 tonnes of ivory worth billions of shillings set ablaze.
The haul of elephant ivory and rhino horn earmarked for burning is the largest under KWS custody, save for some quantity that is evidence in court cases and another that will be stored for historical and education purposes.
 Kenya-based conservationist organization African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and WildAid’s “Poaching Steals From Us All” campaign said they are planning to diversify to protect other threatened species such as lions, rhinos and even vultures.
“Many of us know about the poaching crisis, but too many assume that someone else–the government or a conservation group–will take care of it”, said Daudi Sumba, VP of Program Design for AWF.
The organization uses public service announcements, documentary shorts, billboards and social media to sensitise people to support conservation and report wildlife crime.
In a 2015, a campaign survey revealed that most Kenyans (more than 96 per cent) thought that wildlife was important for national identity, heritage and the economy.
A further 87 per cent said the government should do more about poaching with 75 per cent said losing elephants would matter to them a great deal.