Thursday, February 26, 2015

Drought and human-wildlife conflict in Kenya

Kenya has had lots of human-wildlife conflict news lately. They are experiencing an extreme drought that is leading to increased human-wildlife conflict.

Due to an extended drought this year, wildlife are in increased competition with communities for water and pasture. So far I've come across a few  reports revolving around humans and elephants clashing, though I am sure there are many others regarding other species that aren't published. On Feb 1st an elephant killed Satioti Ole Samburu in Kajiado after four encroached on his homestead. After two days of protests the offending elephant was killed. On Feb 9th a 101 year old woman was crushed to death by a jumbo while fetching firewood. On Feb 10th a six elephants invaded a school in the same region, destroying trees and water talks. The following day an elephant was stuck in a shallow well (no doubt looking for water)- this incident led to a man being shot by KWS officials as the local people were trying to kill and eat the elephant after it was rescued.

Image source: In2EastAfrica

This drought is expected to last until mid-March when the rainy season will begin. Until then, heavy conflict mitigation will be in order. 

Currently, on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia rangers are tasked with driving animals back into the conservancy, which is bordered by 18 communities. Foot patrols, 4x4's and helicopters are all employed for the express purpose of keeping humans and wildlife apart to prevent either from losing their lives. There are 45 rangers in the park, no word on how many are involved in the effort.

Image source:

However, human-wildlife conflict is common in Kenya, regardless of season. In 2013, 106 people were killed and 520 people injured. One current mitigation measure is the building of a 500km electrified fence to completely surround the Mount Kenya Forest Reserve. When finished it will be the largest conservation fence in the world.

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