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Temperatures soared, reaching well above 100 F, as we walked the 5 miles down a recessed road from the new Siana gate to the town center in Sekenani, making the enormity of the crowd even that much more amazing.

Concerns over poaching are always high in this region of Kenya – especially when it comes to ivory and rhino horn – but have increased exponentially as the date when CITES will makes its decision whether or not to allow China to purchase  certain quantities of “legally” obtained ivory looms ever closer. The plan is to allow the sales of ivory from countries that have stocks obtained from naturally deceased animals or other legal methods, to sell to China. Illegally obtained ivory, however, is impossible to differentiate once it has been mixed in with the legal stocks. Preparing for the opening of the “flood gate,” poaching has been on the rise.

In response to this, Kenyans United Against Poaching (KUAP) had organized several marches throughout Kenya – two are still upcoming events – with a major march occurring on the 14th of February in the Masai Mara, Sekenani. This was an important location due to the fact that it is the primary location in the Mara where poaching occurs, mostly because of its proximity to the Tanzanian border, a quick escape for poachers.

The fire and passion of the crowd was overwhelming as they cries of protest filled the air, drawing people from their homes as they passed. Arriving at Sekenani center, the crowd was then met by an equally powerful selection of speakers and performers, including: the Chief of Sekenani, members of the Koiyaki Guiding School, Zeeklown performing the official Anti-Poaching anthem of Kenya, and many others.   As the day concluded, it was still hard for me to process all that had occurred throughout the day. It was clear though that Kenyans had no intention to simply step aside and allow their fellow Kenyans, human or creature, by slaughtered in such a needless pursuit.