JUMBOS BREAK FENCES, ESCAPE PARKS IN SEARCH OF WATER AND FOOD
News emerged overnight from Kenya that several ‘jumbo hotspots’ were giving the Kenya Wildlife Service headaches, of how to contain elephants which in search of food and water are leaving reserves and parks, causing havoc for nearby villages.
Reports from Kwale, near the Shimba Hills National Park, speak of broken fences, brought down by elephant groups driven by instincts developed over time immemorial, seeking other food and water sources when they cannot find sustenance within the reserve itself, while near Voi, Tsavo East National Park, homesteads were destroyed by marauding elephant also seeking food as drought once again strikes.
Only weeks ago did several hundred elephant break out of Tsavo West and had to be driven back into the park by a combined ground force of KWS and the use of helicopters overhead, while in other reserves under KWS management the animals required water and food to keep them ‘inside’ and avoid yet greater human – wildlife conflict.
Growing human populations combine with shrinking wildlife habitat, and when the traditional migration routes are then cut off by fenced farms and residential developments like between the Nairobi National Park and the Athi plains, or between Northern Kenya’s wildlife areas, the Laikipia plains, Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares’, the problems become all too real and all too pressing.
Under current law KWS must compensate, as must incidentally other wildlife management bodies across the entire East African region, farmers for loss of crops, other damages to homesteads and for injuries and loss of life, but unless solutions are found to preserve the region’s rich wildlife heritage, a cornerstone for the tourism industry, and address the human population explosion, these problems are only bound to escalate.