Fences contain jumbos, let them through corridors

Several fences put up, public participation determines location of gates

In Summary

• Electrified fencing reduces human-wildlife conflict, elephant crop damage, poaching, bushmeat hunting, snaring, illegal logging, charcoal burning and encroachment.

• Fencing contains gates into migratory corridors. They automatically allow elephants to pass when sensors identify something the size of a jumbo.

An Automatic gate in Lower Imenti.
An Automatic gate in Lower Imenti.
Image: Gilbert Koech
Elephant strolls through the bush.
Elephant strolls through the bush.

Electric fencing is reducing human-wildlife conflict.

It's also reducing elephant crop damage, poaching, poaching, bushmeat hunting, snaring, illegal logging, charcoal burning and encroachment.

Several fences were highlighted by Rhino Ark Community Officer Adam Mwingi and some can be opened into corridors that allow elephants to migrate. 

A 400-kilometre electric fence in the Aberdares is helping to solve problems of elephant crop damage as well as human activities within the forest. Construction started in 1989 and was completed in August 2009. It has now been electrified.

In addition to damaging crops, elephants sometimes trampled farmers to death, heightening human-wildlife conflict.

Building another  20okm solar-powered electric fence in Mount Kenya for Sh500 million further reduce human-wildlife conflict.

Yet another 250km electric fence will surround the entire Mt Kenya Forest in Meru, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu and Tharaka-Nithi counties.

Mwangi said the adoption of technology has reduced human-wildlife conflicts as well as illegal activities inside the Aberdare Forest.

“We did public participation by showcasing the benefits of the fence to both residents and leaders," he said.

Mwangi said the electric fence has also regulated movements in and out of the forest, drastically reducing illegal activities in the forests.

He said gate location of the fences is agreed upon during public participation.

“Some people are not friendly to the project, they destroy the fence before getting into the forest,” he said.

Mwangi said the project belongs to the residents and they should use the official gates and not short-circuit the fence that stops elephants.

The fencing is being constructed by Rhino Ark Foundation, Upper Tana Natural Resources Management Project, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Mt Kenya Trust and community forest associations.

Mwangi said Aberdare ecosystem is the heartbeat of Nairobi.

“If the ecosystem were removed for two days, people would die,” he said.

He said the fence has enabled people to go about their duties uninterrupted.

Mwangi said before the fence was put up and electrified, 11 people had been killed between 2014 and 2015 in Lower Imenti.

Eleven elephants also had been killed, he said. 

With advanced fending managers of the fence usually get a short text message whenever the fence has been tampered with.

Managers of the fences can outwit to outwit elephants.

“The elephants have been habitual post breakers. We decided to use short poles with protruding outriggers,” he said. The poles are made of compacted waste apers.

Mwangi said a baboon proof fence has since been introduced.

In lower Imenti, an automatic fence has been put in place along the elephant corridors.

Once an elephant from Shaba or Isiolo approaches the fence, it automatically opens.

Mwangi said the fence has sensors that open the gate every time an object the size of an elephant comes near. Humans can't get through

“This was designed to ensure that the elephants understand where to use it,” Mwangi said.

The gate also has special cameras that take pictures whenever elephants cross.

The sensors also send text messages showing the time the gate opened and the duration it opened.

Mwangi said cases of human-wildlife conflicts have declined s a result of the fence.

On December 3, the government released Sh569 million to compensate victims of human-wildlife conflict.

Victims will be compensated in three tranches of about 30 per cent of the total claim.

The cash, recently approved by the National Assembly, will be shared among 4,752 out of 13,125 victims whose claims have been approved. The total compensation cash is Sh1.553 billion.

While 4,722 victims claiming as much as Sh1.859 billion from reported cases were deferred until all documentation is provided, 3,651 cases amounting to Sh1,506 billion were thrown out. Some reasons included submitting documents without signatures and failing to report the matter to the police station.

According to KWS statistics, 452 human death claims were reported between 2014 and 2017. Of the cases, 163 were approved and the families will be compensated Sh800 million.

Some 119 cases amounting to Sh 595 million were deferred, while 170 claims amounting to Sh850 million were rejected.

A total of 4,555 claims of human injury claims were lodged. Of this number, only 1,711 were approved to be paid Sh549 million. Another 1,966 claims for Sh948 million were deferred and 878 cases worth Sh434 million were rejected.

Other claims were for crop damage (5,073 cases), livestock predation (3,012 cases) and property destruction (33 cases).

(Edited by V. Graham)