IFAW to Support Landmark Community Elephant Fence in Kenya
Kenya’s Vice President Hon. Moody Awori, who led senior government officials and conservationists in the commemoration of IFAW’s contribution to conservation in Kenya, termed the Laikipia West Fence project “a practical solution” saying it will separate the local community from elephants and enable both to thrive side by side without fear and violent conflict. “Laikipia is critically important for Kenya as a wildlife habitat – being host to our largest population of elephants outside protected national parks. But it is also a human-wildlife conflict hotspot with many cases of crop damage by elephants and lost human lives reported each year,” he said.
O’Regan said the fence project was in line with IFAW’s holistic approach to conservation, where initiatives address park management and law enforcement while recognizing the need for community participation and education and the mitigation of human-wildlife conflict.
“In situations where man is aggrieved, wildlife cannot prosper – and vice versa. From support of community wildlife fence projects to eco-tourism ventures and conservation education efforts, IFAW strives to give local communities a reason, the knowledge and the skills to participate in conservation and reap ecologically sustainable benefits from wildlife,” he said.
Laikipia is a biodiversity haven where the local community and large scale ranchers have dedicated over 800,000 hectares of privately owned land to conservation, with large herds of wildlife and over an estimated 6,000 elephants roaming across the savanna landscape. But increase in human population and social change from a predominantly pastoralist to arable farming lifestyle threatens to reverse gains in conservation as community disenchantment rises due to elephant-human conflict.
Kenyan industrialist and IFAW trustee Dr. Manu Chandaria urged KWS and local conservationists to seize Kenya’s on-going review of wildlife management and land use policies as a lifeline by ensuring that space for wildlife is secured amid Kenya’s rising human population.
“As we debate the wildlife policy, let us also be cautious and remember that, where wildlife is concerned, sustainability is only practical when it refers to the ecology of species - and not the flow of financial returns to individuals or the viability of institutions,” he added.
O’Regan also presented five new field vehicles for the Tsavo Conservation Area project and an assortment of research equipment at the same function, bringing IFAW’s total commitment in Tsavo to US$ 574,000 in two years.