Protecting elephants to benefit people
A plan for a proposed Kitenden Conservancy within Kenya’s vast Amboseli ecosystem was unveiled today. Once operational the Conservancy will offer a three-pronged benefit to protect wildlife, for the local community through eco-friendly compatible tourism and enterprise projects and for investors through tourism development.
The plan was announced at Amboseli National Park today by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare– www.ifaw.org) in partnership with the Executive Committee of the Kitenden Corridor Conservation Area.
In July 2013, IFAW signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Olgulului/Ololarashi Group Ranch (OOGR) which saw 1,600 land owners of OOGR’s Kitenden Corridor Conservation Area (KCCA) lease 16,000 acres of land to IFAW for five years. The lease was the first step in securing land - running from Amboseli to Mount Kilimanjaro - from habitat degradation and fragmentation. Elephants have used this route for millennia to move across the Tanzanian border particularly during the rainy season.
Professor Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources who was the Chief Guest at the event stated: “Winning and securing space for wildlife is the number one target for any conservation and management organization – and whilst the issue of poaching has received much attention, that of winning space has not been fully highlighted and aggressively pursued. My heartiest congratulations to the land owners of Kitenden and IFAW for working together to ensure that habitat space and dispersal areas for wildlife remain intact.”
Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO said: “Today IFAW is proud to announce its contribution towards the operationalization process of Kitenden Conservancy having sponsored the development of the Conservancy Plan. In addition we have also sponsored the starting process of the Kitenden Tourism Investment Plan.”
In efforts to promote alternative livelihoods to the community Mr. Downes announced that IFAW is starting a US$ 200,000 education bursary fund to sponsor 66 needy bright students at secondary and tertiary level from the Group Ranch over the next four years.
Joseph Ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior and National Coordination of Government extoled the value of education as driver for alternative livelihoods.. He stated: “I am a beneficiary of a scholarship offered by Amboseli Trust for Elephants of the world famous Cynthia Moss. I proudly say that I was educated by elephants and have reached where I have because of elephants. Any one of you can do the same given the opportunity for education which IFAW’s President has seen wisdom of investing into.”
During the event IFAW also presented a ceremonial cheque to mark the second year of the five-year lease. In the last 3 years within Amboseli IFAW has also facilitated the professional training of 20 Community Rangers from the OOGR at the Kenya Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Academy. The training has equipped the rangers with skills in wildlife protection and mitigating human elephant conflict. IFAW has donated anti-poaching vehicles to the Kenya Wildlife Service and supported the gazzattement of the Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan as the long-term solution for mitigating human elephant conflict.
The unveiling of the Kitenden Conservancy was also attended by Daniel Leturesh, Chairman of the OOGR, William Kiprono, Acting Director General of Kenya Wildlife Service, Dr David Nkedienye, Governor of Kajiado Country, Katoo Ole Metito, MP for Kajiado South, IFAW Board Member Dr Manu Chandaria and other dignitaries.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.