The Kenya-Tanzania borderlands region supports some of the richest wildlife populations on earth through a network of national parks and reserves, as well as the pastoral lands that connect them. Despite their importance to conservation, most national parks are too small and scattered to sustain large, wide-ranging herbivores and carnivores. Over the last 30 years, Kenya’s parks and reserves have lost half of their wildlife populations, about the same as countrywide losses. The same trend is also seen in parks across eastern and southern Africa. BCI aims to conserve elephant and lion populations in this borderlands region through coordination of conservation efforts and cooperation between key interest groups.
CONSERVING ELEPHANTS & LIONS
Poachers, drawn in by the sky-high price of ivory are killing an estimated 96 elephants everyday in Africa – bringing elephants ever closer to the brink of extinction. Although the prospects are dire, we along with our progressive community partners are having success in slowing and in some cases stopping the slaughter in parts of Kenya and Tanzania. In collaboration with NGOs and government anti-poaching forces, we work to increase community conservation capacity, train new scouts, build new scout stations, identify emerging crises, and develop rapid response units to quickly activate game scouts and Kenya Wildlife Service staff. These cooperative efforts have resulted in a significant reduction of elephant poaching. Meanwhile, lions have reappeared in areas where they have not been seen in 10 years.
THE ROLE OF KEYSTONE SPECIES
Elephants (Loxodonta africana) and lions (Panthera leo) are the largest herbivore and carnivore in Africa, are highly threatened and share a flagship role in conservation. Both species play key roles in the ecosystem, are major tourist attractions, and are most often in conflict with farmers and herders. Conserving elephants and lions combats poaching, bolsters tourism, generates income for local communities, and maintains the diversity and integrity of ecosystems.
ADDRESSING THREATS TO KEYSTONE SPECIES
Contributing to the lack of rangeland for wide-ranging herbivores and carnivores, pastoralists—eager to secure formal titles to ward off land grabbers—are carving up the areas around and between parks. This wave of subdivision is hastening the loss of wildlife and the isolation of parks. Meanwhile, the illegal slaughter of wildlife has escalated in northern Tanzania and Kenya. Although wildlife protection agencies in both countries have reacted to this threat in protected areas, most of the community lands in this region have little or no protection. BCI changes that by working with communities to strengthen their conservation capacity and by generating jobs and income.
Game Scout Training
The Scouts are often the first line of defense against poachers. BCI hires and trains new Game Scouts to fill gaps in coverage. With significantly more tracking and poaching arrests, cases have dropped by nearly 50% thanks to efforts by communities and our partners.
Game Scout Bases
New game scout bases have been built in strategic areas on Kenyan community land to further protect elephants, lions, and other wildlife.
In March 2014, ACC and Wildlife Conservation Society brought together 60 plus representatives of Kenyan and Tanzanian governments, communities, and conservation organizations to plan the way forward for cross-border collaboration.
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