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State, IFAW partner to establish wildlife-friendly sanctuaries in Laikipia

 Pauline Wairimu is a Black Rhinos and Lion Monitor based at Solio Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The government, through the Ministry of Tourism, has partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to create wildlife-friendly sanctuaries in Laikipia 

This collaborative effort aims to foster harmonious coexistence between humans and wild animals while safeguarding the natural heritage of the area.

The pilot project is Kirimon game reserve. Its primary goal is to establish safe corridors for wildlife, ensuring their unimpeded movement through the conservancies while maintaining a safe distance from human settlements, to mitigate human-wildlife conflict that has plagued the region for years.

One of the key priorities of the project is the protection of endangered animals by providing them with secure sanctuaries and designated routes, allowing them to thrive in a natural habitat.

Department of Wildlife Principal Secretary Silvia Museiya said the project aims to provide ample space for wildlife to roam freely in all conservancies, ensuring their protection and fostering responsible tourism.

"We believe that the Kirimon game reserve is the first step towards creating a model for wildlife protection and promoting responsible tourism," she said.

Museiya explained that the game reserve's establishment signifies a proactive effort to address the challenges faced by wild animals due to shrinking habitats and rampant human intervention.  

"By providing a sanctuary for these majestic creatures, the project aims to foster a thriving ecosystem where both wildlife and visitors can coexist in harmony," she said.

IFAW President and CEO Azzedine Downes highlighted the importance of promoting "room to roam" for animals, even in the face of mounting climate change challenges. 

"When habitats are connected and wild animals can roam freely across their landscapes, populations become resilient to changes in their environments and extreme climatic variations, which ultimately buffers species against the threat of extinction. Likewise, communities become more resilient," he said.

The stakeholders also raised concern over the number of wildlife that have been affected by floods as a result of the ongoing rains across the country. 

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