Development is taking place in the remote rangelands of Kenya and Tanzania, home to the world’s most famous and studied elephant population, which resides partly in the popular nature tourism destination of Amboseli National Park.
While the park itself is safe from encroachment, the surrounding land, which provides critical corridors and dispersal areas for the elephants, is rapidly becoming inhospitable to wildlife due to human-induced land use changes to account for the increasing human population footprint in the Amboseli ecosystem rangelands.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s collaring project, started in 2012, made a decision to employ the use of science to generate hard, concrete data about the habitat needs of elephants by collaring 12 elephants starting the following year.
The information we have garnered from the collars has been shared with government officials, policy makers and land-owners to make the case for winning space for elephants.
Despite the haphazard development that is taking place, the data have revealed that elephants are travelling:
- north beyond the Mombasa highway,
- west across the Nguruman excarpment to the Mara-Loita hills,
- east to the Chyulus and Tsavo West national park, and
- south to West Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
IFAW advocates and concurs with the community of Amboseli, that with proper land use planning, the landscape can be zoned to cater for wildlife, livestock grazing, human development areas and agriculture. This is the ultimate mitigation to current human wildlife conflict.
IFAW, in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service, is now set to collar six more elephants to augment information about the use and range of the elephants in this rapidly changing landscape. IFAW CEO Azzedine Downes is in Kenya for the collaring.
The data will continue to be shared with policy and development decision makers with the aim of ensuring that the connectivity of Amboseli National Park’s entire ecosystem is maintained.
As this scientific information continues to be generated, IFAW’s Amboseli project has since 2012 made interventions to secure the Kitenden corridor that links Amboseli to Kilimanjaro national park with an ultimate goal of developing it into an operational Kitenden Conservancy.
The process towards this goal is holistic, in that involves engaging the Maasai land owners in an innovative land leasing agreement that protects the corridor whilst also providing socio economic benefits to the land-owners in the form of financial income, training of community scouts on law enforcement and dealing with human wildlife conflicts, providing educational bursaries to needy children, facilitating solutions for providing water to people, and capacity building on governance and legal structures needed to enable partnerships with tourism investors.
IFAW believes this holistic approach provides a win-win solution that secures space for elephants and yet also brings developmental benefits to the people of the Amboseli ecosystem.
We are confident that with well thought out land use planning and zoning, people can accommodate the needs of wildlife in an open landscape in the 21st century.
Article source: IFAW