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KWS to fit more satellite collars on Amboseli elephants

Date Published: 02 Dec, 2013
KWS to fit more satellite collars on Amboseli elephants

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the School for Field Studies, East Africa (SFS) will Tuesday (December 3, 2013) start fitting tracking collars on four elephants within the Amboseli ecosystem in Kajiado County.

The fitting of collars, will be conducted by a team of scientists, researchers and veterinarians from the partnering organisations.

In this second exercise in year 2013, three pre-selected females and one male will be fitted with the collars. In February 2013, six elephants – four males and two females – were collared at Olgulului, Mbirikani, Selengei and Kuku group ranches bringing to 66 tracking collars on elephant in the country.

The collars, which transmit a satellite and radio signal, will help KWS map out the elephants’ migratory and dispersal routes - critical areas utilized by the elephants, and identify how expansively the elephants travel in search of water and food .

KWS, IFAW, and SFS have been tracking elephant populations around the Amboseli ecosystem to determine their needs for space and resources, and ultimately help mitigate human-elephant conflict. Over the years, an increasing human population and land use changes have meant that elephants have less and less space to use.

The exercise aims at effectively equipping KWS to design intervention measures for human-elephant conflict mitigation as well as mount security operations.

“Monitoring elephant movements in the Amboseli ecosystem is a fundamental prescription of Kenya’s national elephant conservation and management strategy and this scientific study will go a long way in generating accurate, almost real time and up to date information that is critical for managing and conserving elephants on one hand and enhancing local people’s livelihoods on the other,” said Dr. Charles Musyoki, the Head of Species Research Programs at KWS.

It is expected that the study result will help make a case for the connection of the elephant’s favoured habitats by securing critical corridors and securing the areas that are essential for sustaining Amboseli’s rich wildlife heritage.

According to Steve Njumbi, Head of Programs - IFAW, East Africa, the satellite collars will save the lives of both elephants and human populations in the long run.

“Using science we can understand where and how the elephants in this area move about, and we can use this information to help us prioritize human-elephant conflict interventions, as well as save the migratory routes that elephants in this area have been using for millennia.

“Seen in human terms, the information we gather will give us an elephant’s eye view of optimum lifestyle standards for these giant creatures,” he said.

Prof. Moses Okello, Senior Director of the SFS Center for Wildlife Management Studies in Kenya and Tanzania says that elephants need space and resources in order to be free, viable and to fulfill the flagship role they play in East Africa.

“The IFAW, KWS, and SFS partnership brings together our organizations' shared passion, vision, research, and management resources to help enhance the population, range and viability of the charismatic Amboseli elephant,” he said.

The joint study is part of IFAW’s Amboseli Project, which includes enhancing KWS’ law enforcement capabilities, leasing critical corridors and dispersal areas in community land, creating conservation awareness and local capacity for ecotourism ventures, and mitigating human-elephant conflict. The study is also a component of the SFS Center for Wildlife Management Studies Five Year Research Plan which examines how land use and resource availability in the Amboseli ecosystem can be managed to foster the well-being of local communities as well as safeguarding biodiversity conservation.

A recent dry season joint Kenya/Tanzania census in October 2013 for elephants and other large mammals in Amboseli ecosystem estimated a total of 1193 elephants compared to  a similar dry season in October 2010 count of 1065. It is estimated that most of these elephants spend 80 per cent of their time outside Amboseli National Park.



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