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Collaring Amboseli Elephants in bid to Secure Critical Habitat, Mitigate Conflict
Date Published: 18 Feb, 2013
AMBOSELI, KENYA – February 19, 2013) – Six pre-selected elephants will be fitted with GPS satellite collars starting today in the 8,797 km2 Amboseli landscape by a team of scientists, researchers and veterinarians from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and School of Field Studies (SFS). The collaring exercise is estimated to cost Kshs 8.5 million jointly funded by partners.
The collared elephants, both male and female, will be monitored for about 20 months - as long as the collars are retained - and the data will be used to map out migratory routes, critical corridors and seasonal variations on habitat use. Besides assisting scientists and conservation experts establish the extent and how elephants use the Amboseli landscape, the collars will also enable KWS design management intervention measures for conflict mitigation and management as well as enhance security operations.
This will add to a national tally of about 60 deployed collars presently helping in studying of patterns of movement and habitat use by elephants. There are 13 in Tsavo ecosystem, about 35 collared elephants in Laikipia/Samburu ecosystem and 13 in Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Commenting on the exercise, IFAW EA Regional Director, James Isiche emphasized on the need to secure critical migratory routes, corridors and dispersal areas in Amboseli for the survival of the elephants.
“Together with the local Maasai community, elephants have used this area since time immemorial. However, the landscape is now undergoing rapid and incompatible land use changes that will be detrimental to both the local community livelihoods and elephants, if left unchecked. We therefore have to work in partnership with all stakeholders, particularly the local communities, to ensure the integrity of Amboseli is maintained and secured for the welfare of both people and wildlife,” stated Isiche.
According to Dr. Shadrack Ngene, KWS Elephant Programme Coordinator, studies on Amboseli elephant population have, hitherto, primarily focused on individuals’ behavioral patterns – information that has greatly enhanced our understanding of the complex interactions in the social structure of elephants. However, detailed and long-term data on elephant movement patterns in the Amboseli landscape is minimal, and this collaring exercise will assist in obtaining such crucial information.
“This project is also in line with Kenya’s Vision 2030 framework that envisages all wildlife corridors in the country mapped. The Amboseli elephant collaring is a significant step towards winning more space for and securing our wildlife resources,” commented Ngene.
At the last total aerial census conducted in 2010, Amboseli elephant populations were estimated at 1,292. Currently, Kenya has about 37,000 elephants.
Located in the Rift Valley in Kenya, the Amboseli landscape includes the Park, the Maasai community group ranches namely Olgulului-Olorarashi, Kimana, Mbirikani, Selengei, Kuku and Rombo. These stretch to Mt Kilimanjaro, straddle the Kenya-Tanzania border and Chyulu Hills.