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November 13, 2018

Conservationists partner to end human-wildlife conflict

Elephants walk in front of cows belonging to Samburu herders at the Mugie Conservancy on February 12, 2017. /REUTERS
Elephants walk in front of cows belonging to Samburu herders at the Mugie Conservancy on February 12, 2017. /REUTERS

Two agencies have joined hands to protect wildlife and livestock corridors in Northern Kenya.

On Friday, Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy and Save The Elephants will launch a campaign — “Protect Our Rights Of Passage: Keep Our Wildlife Corridors Free For Wildlife".

This will be done during the Maralal Camel Derby in Samburu. They seek to secure the future of wild animals and traditional ways of life.

The four corridors at the heart of the campaign were identified after Save The Elephants analysed tracking data dating more than 20 years. The data has been the centre

of discussions between local communities over places to set aside and keep free of development.

DIMINISHING HABITATS

Over the years, wildlife habitats have been diminishing at an alarming rate. This has led to increased human-wildlife conflicts.

The Tourism and Wildlife ministry needs Sh15 billion to compensate victims of such conflicts. It has appealed to the National Assembly to allocate the cash.

Yesterday, David Lekoomet said the Samburu community live in harmony with wild animals such as elephants.

"These iconic creatures are incredibly important to us. I hope other communities will emulate what we are trying to do," he said.

Lekoomet is the chairman of the Kalama Conservancy Wildlife Board and Northern Rangelands Trust’s Council of Elders.

Save The Elephants head of field operations David Daballen said protecting corridors will help to meet the needs of wildlife, particularly elephants, and ensure communities can live with them side by side without problems.

"We hope this campaign will inspire other local communities in Northern Kenya to get behind the project and protect their own wildlife and livestock corridors," he said.

Safe passage between game reserves in Northern Kenya is critical for the future of elephants but is threatened by infrastructural development and encroachment.

Elephants use corridors as critical lifelines to find food, water and mate.

Pilipili Creative created the design for the new corridors. It features a striking image by wildlife photographer Daryl Balfour.

The materials for the campaign — in English and Samburu — will be printed on banners, flags, T-shirts, and reflectors for boda boda riders in the greater Samburu and Laikipia regions.

The Mama Tembos, a group of nine women, will attend the Maralal event to promote the initiative and enlighten residents about their work. The Samburu and Turkana women were chosen by their communities to patrol wildlife and livestock corridors in the wider Samburu-Laikipia ecosystem.

The group has been praised for its role in pursuing a peaceful future for human-wildlife coexistence. It got its name from the famous Mama Simbas who work with Ewaso Lions to protect the lions.

LEGAL BACKING

With Kalama Conservancy fully supporting the project, the focus shifts to having it protected by law so it continues uninterrupted.

Kalama Conservancy and Save The Elephants also want other communities to be inspired by the steps taken in northern Kenya so they can protect their own wildlife and livestock corridors.

Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy is an initiative of Gir Gir Group Ranch in Northern Kenya. It was established to create an alternative source of income in addition to livestock keeping.

At its inception in 2001, it had about 39,536 acres set aside for conservation — about 14,826 designated as a core conservation area.

An elected management board manages the conservancy. Board members are drawn from different parts of the group ranch. They are in charge of daily operations.

Save The Elephants is a UK registered charity based in Kenya. It was founded in 1993 and focuses on securing future generations of the African elephant.

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