NAIROBI, 16 June 2021 – Kenya’s tourism ministry has launched an elephant-naming festival in furtherance of its initiative to promote wildlife conservation.
Under the initiative, individuals who contribute at least a minimum amount in support of conservation will be given a chance to adopt an elephant and give it a name.
The plan integrates local communities, allowing the honor to fall to Maasai elders to give a last name to the elephants in keeping with their traditions and the history the elephant has shared with the Maasai people.
The naming festival will culminate in a major celebration due to be held next August 12, also the United Nations-designated World Elephant Day.
Tourism officials in Kenya say the final ceremony will be held at the Amboseli National Park which is home to more than 3,000 elephants – nearly one=-tenth of Kenya’s total elephant population of more than 34,000.
The East African nation, which depends on tourism for a considerable part of its earnings, is on the verge of launching a major initiative to conduct a census of the country’s wildlife.
Tourism is the third biggest foreign exchange earner after the country’s agricultural exports – in first position – and remittances sent home by Kenyans in the Diaspora – ranked second.
Kenya earned $1.61 billion from tourism in 2019, a 3.9 percent increase compared to 2018, according to data from the country’s health and finance ministries.
The country received 2.05 million tourists in 2019, a one percent increase in the number of tourists who visited in 2018.
Both the number of tourists visiting and the income earned from tourism fell in 2020 on account of travel restrictions imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
The focus on elephants is linked to the increased danger elephants face from poaching who seek them for their ivory.