Human Settlements Encroach Into Elephants’ Migration Corridor (Kenya)


Yobesh Onwong’a, The Kenya News Agency

Date Published

Several  herds of elephants migrating from Tsavo East National Park to Mwingi Game Reserve have been stranded at  Kanziko area in Kitui South Sub-County following human encroachment into their migratory corridor.

Confirming  the  Friday  incident, the Ikutha Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Jackton Orieny said this is the season of  elephants’ migration.

He  regretted  that scores of elephants were stuck in the area due to the encroachment of people who have blocked the migratory route.

“Officers from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spent the better part of Thursday trying to group the elephants and escort them to  Mwingi Game Reserve. As the aerial team helped them trace their route they got to some place and lost their track and retreated to Kitui South,” said Orieny.

The  administrator said every effort  was being made besides the encroachment to ensure that the elephants get back to  their  track and trace their route to Mwingi Game Reserve.

“Over the years, wildlife corridors have been considered essential for connectivity of habitat for wildlife that elephants use to migrate between Tsavo and Mwingi,” he said.

However, Orieny lamented that in recent years, the fragmentation of elephants and other wildlife habitat and corridors has escalated because of human population growth and expansion has reduced the species’ range drastically.

Orieny  said  majority of remaining elephants exist in small pockets of protected protected land isolated by
human habitation and infrastructural development.

“The  tendency  of establishing human settlements in previously wildlife migratory areas is becoming common, endangering  the future of wildlife species,” said the DCC.

He  noted that the Tsavo-Mwingi ecosystem will face the same isolation of its elephants if the migratory corridor
that  connects  he two will not be protected from human settlements and other infrastructural activities.

Orieny disclosed that as elephants try to find other spaces outside the corridor to move to their desired destination they veer off their tracks, adding that their diverse and unpredictable patterns of their movement leads to protracted human-wildlife conflicts.

Separately, residents of Lower Yatta in Kanyangi area are in fear following reports of a stray lion roaming the area.

Speaking to KNA on phone, the Lower Yatta Deputy County Commissioner, Gerald  Mutuku appealed to the residents to  safeguard their livestock and attend to their school going children as rangers from KWS track the stray lion.

“So far, we have not received any reports of the animal harming livestock or people. However, I call on wananchi to be vigilant and report any visible movements of the animal to their village elders or Assistant Chiefs for action to be initiated,” said Mutuku.