Animal bridge to reduce accidents on busy road

A wildlife overpass will be constructed across Moi North Lake Road to ease the movement of wildlife between Eburu Forest and Lake Naivasha.

The project, which is being spearheaded by the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Rhino Ark Charitable Trust, conservationists and land owners, will allow free movement of wildlife along a 40-50 metre wide corridor.

A Canadian expert has been consulted for the project that is in the design phase after a series of successful public participation meetings between land owners and environmental authorities.

Rhino Ark Eburu community manager Joseph Motong’u said the overpass, which will be situated at Loldia farm, will make it easier for giraffes to cross the wildlife corridor as well as reduce the number of accidents involving animals crossing Moi North Lake Road.

"The fencing of Eburu Forest was a great idea and there is already a lot of improvement. After fencing, we realised that there was also need for wildlife to use a corridor and get to Lake Naivasha to access water,” said Mr Motong’u.

The manager explained that an electric fence had helped to stop wanton degradation of the forest especially by charcoal dealers. The forest is also home to the critically endangered mountain bongo.

KWS scientist Samuel Mungai said after consulting widely with engineers, the overpass had been factored into construction of the road.

"The Moi North Lake Road was designed in a way that it drops six metres so that the animal bridge will lie flat on the surface. It will also be between 40 to 50 metres wide and grass will be planted on it to give it the look of a natural environment," said Mr Mungai.

Vehicle collision

The scientist added that construction of the overpass will reduce cases of inbreeding as well as the number of animals hit and killed by vehicles.

He said three or four animals were struck each month with the most common fatalities recorded to be hyenas and waterbucks.

Loldia farm owner Ronaldo Retief said the overpass will ease pressure on the forest from overgrazing.

"The challenge in the wildlife sector is mainly blocked migratory routes. And while there is a route to connect Eburu and Lake Naivasha along Loldia farm, the challenge was the number of wildlife being hit along the road. We approached the road engineers and proposed that they incorporate a space for a wildlife overpass,” Mr Retief said.

He continued: "Giraffes are endangered and that is why we supported the idea of an overpass so that they can also cross over freely like other animals. We have about 15 giraffes in this ecosystem and they need to move without being confined."

Loldia farm manager Gary Hopcraft said overgrazing due to limited movement of wildlife had resulted in the spread of invasive species. "Invasive weeds are taking over fast because the grazers concentrate on grass, leaving weeds to grow."  

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By David Njaaga Sep. 22, 2022
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