There has been such progress here in changing people's views about wildlife and conservation. In 1990, when the ivory ban was introduced, African communities were not beneficiaries of tourism, but in northern Kenya this has radically changed, through the work of the Northern Rangelands Trust (an umbrella organisation that helps more than 60,000 pastoral farmers in Kenya derive an income from their environment), Tusk and other groups, as well as a radical shift in government policy led by the Kenya Wildlife Service. In the past week the Kenyan government, following the escalation of poaching in northern Kenya, has brought in all the chiefs in the areas most heavily affected to discuss how to apprehend the perpetrators of the poaching within their communities. This would never have happened 20 years ago.
Tourism plays a huge role in persuading local people that there is a future in community-led conservation; there is now a series of lodges available to holidaymakers, run by local people, for local people, that are the equal of anything national parks can offer.
These communities now realise that when an elephant is killed, they are losing an asset. It is becoming, in effect, a neighbourhood-watch scheme: local communities are on the lookout and will challenge their brothers. If welfare, education and employment are being jeopardised by the outside killing of an animal, they won't let it happen.
Yet, despite all these efforts, poaching in northern Kenya last year was at its worst since NRT's records began in 2006. What angers me is not that it happens but why it happens. By and large, these poachers are not criminals, but opportunists. They are desperately poor; they see the enormous amount of money that can be obtained for horns and ivory on the black market, and they will risk anything to get it.
Demand is fuelled by an ill-informed desire in the Far East for ivory trinkets and a culture in which rhino horns are believed to have healing properties. That is a myth.
The current upsurge of elephant and rhino poaching is undermining new economic opportunities for communities, while eroding the national assets that form the backbone of Kenya's tourism-based economy. But this is now a global issue: everybody needs to fight this war; communities, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts are not enough. It is senior politicians that need to get involved. It is a fight that simply cannot be won in the villages, hills and plains of Africa.