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Human population growth, agricultural development, and infrastructural expansion, all of which cause severe habitat fragmentation, are some of the major things impacting wildlife. Elephants, who are migratory megaherbivores that require a lot of food, find it particularly difficult to move between feeding grounds without causing significant damage. As they pass through their historic migratory pathways, which are now farmlands and highways, these tuskers come into conflict with humans.

A herd of over 200 elephants travelling from the Nyambene Hills to the Isiolo Rangelands recently sparked panic in Meru County’s Kandebene district by destroying crops as they passed through farmlands.

To address the situation, the Kenya Wildlife Service, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Northern Rangelands Trust, and Save the Elephants dispatched a rapid response team to the area. Four of the elephants in the group were fitted with satellite-linked GSM collars, allowing the response team to watch their movements remotely and intervene to prevent human-wildlife confrontations.

Because female leaders stick to the unit, they are perfect candidates for monitoring an entire herd thus the collaring of two female elephants. The two bull elephants were collared to continue monitoring them once they drifted away from the herd.

A darted female before collaring

“The mission of Kenya Wildlife Service, Meru County Government, National Rangelands Trust, Save the Elephants, and Lewa is to foster coexistence between wildlife and people. The collars were donated by Save the Elephants, a veterinarian was sent by Kenya Wildlife Services, and we collared four elephants from the main herds. The multi-agency team’s speedy response rescued a quickly deteriorating situation. We will now constantly be aware of the elephants’ whereabouts and will relay this information to the Lewa radio room, where they can track their movements on a map. When these elephants are seen approaching an agricultural field, the rapid response team will spring into action to avoid a collision,” said Dr. Matthew Mutinda, a Kenya Wildlife Service veterinarian stationed in Lewa.

Long-Term Solution

He believes that a long-term solution to this situation is coexistence, which can be encouraged by communities directly benefiting from conservation through healthcare and education, as well as the restoration of portions of  ancient African elephant migration corridors. Where resources are available, setting up electric fences, like we did in the Ntalaban community, is particularly effective in preventing conflict between humans and this iconic species.

ALSO READ: Launch of Electric Fence Settles Human-Wildlife Conflict in Ntalaban Community

An elephant after being collared

“Wildlife is a national asset. It’s owned by the people of Kenya and shared with the people of the world. The ultimate solution to human-wildlife conflict is coexistence. We can promote it by giving elephants their corridor and designating it as an elephant highway from Nyambene Hills to the lowlands of Isiolo. Furthermore, if communities can profit from wildlife through education bursaries and health institutions, they will have a more positive outlook towards wildlife,” Mutinda added.







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