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Kenya Elephant Man , mourns Julius Kimani

It’s with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Mr. Julius Kimani Former Director of Parks and Reserves of KWS. On behalf of Elephant Neighbors Center, and I send our deepest condolences to Mr. Julius Kimani’s family and the Kenya Wildlife Service family at this difficult time. The world of conservation mourns with you and celebrates the extraordinary life of this remarkable “ General” who devoted his life to peacefully protecting Kenyan Wildlife.

The work of the Kenya Wildlife Service stands as a testament to the power of his leadership, he rose to the rank of Acting Director due to his dedication, humbleness but no-nonsense man. Mr. Julius’s tireless efforts earned him not only a highest position at KWS but to the Kenyan Conservation fraternity, he was known to any one in Kenya and in conservation.

I celebrate an extraordinary man, a warrior, a statesman, and a patriot, who embodied so much that, is best in Kenyan Wildlife Conservation fraternity and in Kenya. So for someone like Julius to ask you while he is still alive to stand and speak of him when he is gone is a precious and singular honor. At one he was quoted “Tsavo is Kenya’s second oldest national park. It biodiversity is part of our history and one of the pillars of our economy. For this reason, we will protect this unique ecosystem and its wildlife fiercely, relentlessly and passionately. And for as long as we have friends like IFAW who share our vision, Tsavo will live well into the future”

I personally met Julius Kimani in early 2000 but interacted with him in 2013 during my Mombasa- Nairobi Elephant Walk to this date, he has lingered as a close confidant and a friend bearing in mind my campaign need planning, intelligent and honest personnel! His leadership will be immensely missed. I celebrate my friend and I will remember him for the many things he did for this country, he did it without asking for anything in returns, he never expected anything but instead he did because he was passionate and did it from his heart despite the risk therein. If there is anything we can learn from Julius is what contribution are we making, what sacrifice are we giving for the betterment of wildlife conservation in this country, are we working for our self or are for the wellbeing of people of this country! What kind of a legacy are we fulfilling!

It brings to mind something that Hemingway wrote, in the book “ For Whom the Bells Toll “ “Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.” In the world of conservation, Julius learned in ways that few of us ever will the meaning of those words—how each moment, each day, each choice is a test. And Julius passed that test again and again and again. And that’s why when we spoke of virtues like service and duty held by Julius while on duty, it didn’t ring echoing. They are just words to him. It was a truth that he had lived and for which he was prepared to die. And it forced even the most cynical to consider, what were we doing for our country? What might we risk everything for?

Julius upholds orders; discipline and he would not hesitate to tell us when required! Like all of us who go into public service, he did have an ego. Like all of us, there was no doubt some people didn’t like his working philosophy, some compromises he struck, some decisions he made that he wished he could have back. It’s no secret—he had a temper, and when it flared up, it was a force of nature, a wonder to behold. His jaw screeching, his face blushing, his eyes boring a hole right through you! I ever experienced it firsthand, mind you. But to know Julius! One was to know that as quick as his passions might flare, he was just as quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. He knew more than most his own weaknesses, and his blind spots, and he knew how to laugh at himself. And that self-awareness made him all the more convincing.

What better way to honor Julius’s life of service than, as best we can, follow his example? To prove that the willingness to get in the arena and fight for wildlife conservation is not reserved for the few, it is open to all of us, and in fact it is demanded of all of us as citizens of Kenya. That’s perhaps how we honor him best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than ourselves or desire or money or fame or authority. That there are some things that are worth risking everything for: principles that are endless, truths that are unshakable. At his best, I believed Julius showed us what that means and how to live on it and we are all deeply in his debt. May God bless Julius Kimani and rest his affectionate soul in the best place.

Jim Justus Nyamu , Cde
Executive Director Elephant Neighbors Center