Nation ( Kenya)

KWS says SGR affecting wildlife movement in Tsavo

FRIDAY MAY 31 2019

Impalas walk near the elevated railway line in Nairobi National Park. KWS has raised concerns over the effects of the SGR railway line to movement of wildlife within the Tsavo conservation area. PHOTO | FILE | YASUYOSHI CHIBA | AFP 

In Summary

• At least 130 kilometres of the 487-kilometre railway line runs through the Tsavo conservation area.

• There are eight underpasses that connect Tsavo West to Tsavo East national parks.

• The government is planning to fence off the park to curb human-wildlife conflicts.

By LUCY MKANYIKA

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The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has raised concerns over the effects of the standard gauge railway (SGR) to movement of wildlife within the Tsavo conservation area.

Wild animals have to walk for several kilometres to access underpasses because most parts of the SGR has been fenced off.

At least 130 kilometres of the 487-kilometre railway line runs through the Tsavo conservation area.

There are eight underpasses that connect Tsavo West to Tsavo East national parks.

CULVERTS

But the contractor fenced off water culverts which would also have allowed free the movement of the wildlife within and outside the protected area.

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Zainab Salim, the KWS senior warden for community service at the Tsavo conservation area said the fencing off of the line has created a barrier to wildlife movement.

“The railway line has affected the migration pattern of wildlife. The animals take a long time to locate the underpasses,” she said.

HOME INVASIONS

Recently, parts of Taita Taveta County have been experiencing rising cases of human-wildlife conflicts.

Early this week, about 14 elephants invaded two local schools in Voi and Mwatate sub-counties disrupting learning.

Farmers are also counting losses due to frequent invasions by wildlife migrating from Tsavo East to Tsavo West National Park.

Ms Salim said efforts to drive back the elephants from the villages to the park have been a challenge.

“Rangers have to walk long distances with the elephants as they try to locate the underpasses,” she said.

AERIAL SURVEILLANCE

She said the Problem Animal Management Unit (PAMU) had been deployed to the area to control the wildlife menace currently being experienced there.

The team is being backed by an aerial surveillance team that is using a helicopter to identify the location of the elephants.

Ms Salim said the wildlife have to be escorted through Mbulia ranch before they are driven to the Tsavo West National Park.

The government is planning to fence off the park to curb human-wildlife conflicts.

Taita Taveta is among counties that experience frequent invasions of wildlife from the neighbouring park.

The government is set to construct a 96-kilometre electric fence along Mgeno-Maungu-Kasigau stretch to end the perennial conflict.

The Sh265 million project will be implemented in the next financial year.

Already, the government has started engaging residents along the stretch seeking their views regarding the project.