As Kenya marks the World Elephant Day today, conservationists are calling for protection of wildlife corridors and dispersal areas to reduce conflicts.
Conservationists say designing of the country’s infrastructure and development projects should be done with wildlife conservation in mind.
This follows the success of the Mt Kenya Elephant Corridor that includes an underpass connecting a 28-kilometre traditional migratory path between Laikipia and Samburu.
According to Mt Kenya Trust CEO Susie Weeks, the corridor cutting through the Meru-Nanyuki road, Kisima and Marania farms has re-established the connection between Kenya’s second largest elephant population of 7,500 animals in Samburu with the estimated 2,000 in Mt Kenya.
“Countless wildlife species now benefit from the protection, safe passage and habitat of the corridor. Besides elephants, many other wild animals have used the underpass. The corridor has improved livelihoods by significantly reducing human-elephant conflict. The corridor also re-establishes genetic connectivity between the two elephant populations and reduces the habitat pressure,” she said.
Lewa Conservancy Head of Conservation and Wildlife Geoffrey Chege said about 200 elephants use the corridor every year.
In 2016, the Kenya Wildlife Service had received 895 compensation claims amounting to Sh1 billion, from Meru residents, due elephant invasions. This included 12 deaths and 60 injuries on locals. In that period, about five elephants were killed in Kithoka area alone.