On the move… Elephants moved to reduce human/wildlife conflict in Laikipia
Nine elephants have been moved from the Laikipia-Samburu ecosystem to the 870-square-kilometre Meru National Park to reduce human/elephant conflict.
Laikipia-Samburu has the second largest population of elephants in Kenya, making it a hotspot for human/elephant conflict. Ol Pejeta Conservancy has been conducting an elephant monitoring programme to identify habitual fence breakers so that appropriate action could be taken. The monitoring is carried out by a skilled elephant tracker armed with GPS, binoculars and camera to check on every fence breakage or crop raid. Thanks to this system, the habitual fence breakers are well known.
Over the years, different intervention strategies such as collaring, de-tusking and even upgrading the electric boundary fence have been used to control fence breaking and crop raiding elephants within the conservancy. However, these interventions have not always been effective, as a few individuals continued to break fences. Studies were carried out to find out why.
As part of the long-term solution to the human/elephant conflict in the region, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), in conjunction with Ol Pejeta and ‘Space for Giants’, translocated the nine elephant bulls from Ol Pejeta and neighbouring ADC Mutara. The translocation exercise is also part of a national plan to restock Meru National Park. During the exercise, some of the elephants were fitted with GPS collars to establish their movements and behaviour in their new range. The GPS transmitters fitted on the elephants will provide valuable lessons for elephant conservation.
Space for elephants to roam freely and safely at Amboseli National Park recently grew by nearly 16,000 acres, with the signing of a lease agreement between the local Maasai community and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “Paradise for elephants and other wildlife has just grown bigger,” said Azzedine Downes, President of IFAW, at a ceremony to mark the creation of the Kitenden Corridor. The leased area will extend elephant range space from Amboseli National Park to the Tanzanian border, where the Kitenden Corridor connects to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park About 1400 elephants live in the Amboseli ecosystem, and routinely move into the ranch area, particularly during the rainy season. They sometimes come into conflict with local communities. The corridor, which runs from Amboseli to Mount Kilimanjaro, will ensure that a route that elephants have used for millennia to move across the Tanzanian border is secured from habitat fragmentation and potential conflicts with local communities.
Elite crack unit to fight poachers
The Kenyan government has formed a 120-member inter-security agency squad to fight wildlife poaching. The unit, under the command of the Kenya Wildlife Service, has been deployed to the poaching hotspots of Narok, Tsavo and Isiolo.
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