2015 Jul. 28
An Elephantine Task: Tang Prize Promotes Preservation and Sustainability in Kenya

Following the July 22 meeting and signing with the trustees and founder of the Albie Sachs Trust for Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law, the Tang Prize Foundation visited the equatorial African country of Kenya on July 26 and 27 to meet with the Milgis Trust. The Trust is the executor of the Tang Prize grant project from Gro Harlem Brundtland, the 2014 laureate in Sustainable Development, and aims to “sustain the wildlife, habitat and the pastoral peoples’ way of life in northern Kenya.”

Brundtland donated half of her grant (NT$5 million, approx. US$160,000) to the Milgis Trust, a wildlife conservation organization operating in the Milgis Lugga area of Northern Kenya. Brundtland, famous for the seminal Brundtland Report which defined ‘sustainable development,’ has spent most of her professional life in the promotion of sustainability and environmental protection, and more recently, her attention has focused on the natural habitat of Africa.

Brundtland’s grant funds will be used for “Community based conservation of wild African elephant in the Matthews and Ndoto mountain ecosystems, Northern Kenya.” Located in the Milgis Lugga between the Matthews range and the Ndoto mountains, the Milgis Trust operates on a local, community-based model to protect the wildlife, habitat, and the indigenous cultures of the area, all of which have been in danger of disappearing. Due to the continued efforts of the Trust and its locally employed, locally motivated scouts, it has been able to largely impede frightening trends like the killing of elephants for ivory. It is a massive success story in an area that has long been plagued by illegal poaching and over-hunting. In recognition of the grant plan, the Tang Prize Foundation visited with the Trust’s management and scouts to sign the grant agreement that consigns US$160,000 to the Trust in operation funds.

According to the local Samburu people present at the signing, this was the first time they had seen anyone of Asian descent; certainly the first from Taiwan. Tang Prize Foundation CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern, himself an admirer of aboriginal culture, dressed in traditional Paiwan tribal clothing during the agreement signing with Milgis trustee and honorary warden Helen Douglas-Dufresne, adding an extra layer of cultural significance to the event. From the picturesque summit of Lkanto Hill sitting above the expansive Milgis Lugga, the signing was a defining moment for sustainable development and ecological preservation.

For more information about the Milgis Trust, visit milgistrustkenya.com