Elephants Must Outrun Poachers, Climate Change
Nyeri County Governor Nderitu Gachagua yesterday announced a grand scheme to reconnect the former wildlife corridor between Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare mountains to allow in particular the elephant populations to resume their age-old movement patterns in search of pastures without constantly colliding with the population which has over the past decades moved into such corridors, leaving the routes fenced and fragmented at best and cut off altogether at worst.
The Aberdare National Park is already largely fenced in on the side of Nyeri and the Laikipia plains, in part to keep people out of the park and avoid encroachment but mostly to keep the animals inside and avoid elephants straying into the neighboring farms raiding crops.
The old migration routes, which connected Marsabit with the Laikipia plains and both Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares were similarly to the game access route from Amboseli, the Chyulu Hills over the open Athi plains into Nairobi National Park in recent decades turned into farms or ranchland, making migration very difficult and fears emerged of gene pool isolation of game populations literally trapped inside fenced areas with no access to the migration routes imprinted in their brains.
While the debate about restoring a corridor in and out of Nairobi National Park is ongoing, was the initiative of the Nyeri county governor meeting with instant approval by many of Kenya’s leading conservationists even though some doubted the assertion of the governor that a newly-established game corridor would provide tourists with regular sightings of migrating game similar to other migrations the governor had cited.
Examples from conservancies like Ol Pejeta, which has left open small sections of their otherwise fenced sanctuary for elephant and other game to migrate in and out and which form the foundation of gaining the data and knowledge needed to establish a migration pattern, are now coming in handy as the Nyeri county government is setting out to engage with land owners in the proposed corridor with the aim to acquire tracts of land or persuade land owners to become voluntary participants, hopefully reaping benefits from tourism in years to come.
It was also learned from regular conservation sources in Nairobi that the Rhino Ark Trust Director, one Christian Lambrecht, has signaled the trust’s broad approval and participation in the scheme while expressing the hope that it would substantially reduce the human – wildlife conflict which presently exists, and has in recent years intensified to the detriment of the wildlife. This certainly is one project worth watching as the plans gain shape and progress is made towards the restoration of a migration route between Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares.
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