KWS TO SHIFT DOZENS OF ELEPHANT FROM FARMING AREAS INTO THE MASAI MARA
Information was given overnight that the Kenya Wildlife Service will embark next week to relocate as many as 200 elephant roaming the farmlands in the wider vicinity of the reserve and surrounding conservancies into the Masai Mara, following persistent complaints by farmers and administration officials of the growing damage the animals do in search of fodder. The operation will be launched on the 22nd September when the initial target is the relocation of some 50 elephant, before progressing in further stages until all of them have been located and brought into the protected area.
It was also learned that some of the elephant due for relocation will then be fitted with electronic collars to monitor their movement, mainly to ensure that they are not returning into areas more and more populated as a result of the growing need to find new farming area and settle burgeoning populations, which is causing more and more conflicts between people and wildlife, not just in the Narok area of Kenya but right across the country. While the process is generally hailed by the conservation fraternity there have also been warnings that fencing and forced relocations of free roaming herds are progressively cutting off the ancient migration habits as the age old routes are now fenced and farmed, having a long term effect on the gene pool of the affected animals and turning the East African safari parks into very large but nevertheless glorified open air zoos, the way a particularly outspoken critic of the idea of capture and release has stated overnight to this correspondent.
Preparations by KWS for the relocation of the elephant are now in full swing but have been ongoing for some time to establish capture and release sites and routes for the vehicles into the Masai Mara. The estimated cost of the operation has been given as about 350.000 US Dollars.