New campaign to keep wildlife corridors free launched in northern Kenya

An Elephant with her baby crossing the road at Olpejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County. The Conservancy has incorporated wildlife corridors within its northern boundary fence to ensure migratory animals like elephants can move safely out of Ol Pejeta to the greater Laikipia/Samburu ecosystem. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Two agencies have started a campaign to encourage local communities to protect wildlife and livestock corridors.

Dubbed 'Protect Our Rights of Passage: Keep Our Wildlife Corridors Free for Wildlife', the campaign will be launched at the Maralal Camel Derby on August 31, 2018.

It brings together the Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy and Save the Elephants.

Four elephant corridors at the heart of the campaign were identified after Save the Elephants analysed more than 20 years of tracking data.

The data was then presented to the local communities to agree on areas to be set aside for elephant movement.

Elephants use corridors as critical lifelines to find food, water and mates while local communities need to protect the land for their livestock.

Unplanned development

Experts say that safe passage between reserves in northern Kenya is critical for the future of elephants, but this is threatened by the spread of infrastructure and unplanned development.

The materials for the campaign - written in English and Samburu - will be printed on banners, flags, T-shirts and reflectors for boda boda drivers in Samburu and Laikipia.

As part of the launch, a group of nine women picked from the Samburu and Turkana communities and named 'Mama Tembos' will patrol wildlife and livestock corridors.

Modelled after 'Mama Simbas', who work with Ewaso Lions to protect the big cats, Mama Tembos have been hailed as an important front in countering human/wildlife conflict.

“The Samburu community lives side by side in harmony with elephants, we consider them to be part of us. I hope other communities will emulate what we are trying to do," said David Lekoomet, the chairman of the Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy board.