Well wildlife and Africa are always synonymous, this is because Africa has a very large number of wild animals that are found mostly in the large Savannah grasslands. If anyone wants to have a good view of wildlife in their natural habitat, then Africa is the best option for these.
As the world is changing fast and population growing, there has risen a lot of animal to human conflict leading to wild animal habitats being taken over by humans. This has led in the formation of policies by states and conservation bodies to protect this habitat. Hence, we have public wildlife reserve parks and private wildlife reserves or conservancies in Africa.
One thing to note is that if wild animals are expected to dwell in their natural habitat, then they should be allowed to roam around with no boundaries. They should also be allowed to form homes where they feel comfortable and if one area doesn’t have enough food, just like pastoralist they should be allowed to move to another area in search of food.
This consideration of letting the animals live in their natural habitat has brought about the need for protection of wildlife corridors in Kenya to ensure that the animals are able to move with ease and are not interrupted by the human activities going on around them.
Importance of Wildlife Corridors
There are birds and animals like the wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, impalas etc known to always be on the move in search of pasture and their movement is based on seasons. The increase of human activities in various areas has greatly affected their movement hence need to protect their route to avoid habitat loss and conflict.
Some of these animals also have specific areas where they use as breeding grounds during the season of reproduction. Breeding may not necessarily coincidence with availability of food but the animals put into consideration a good place where they can raise their young ones.
The weather also forms a big part of this and some animals have made for themselves a permanent breeding place. No matter how far the animals travel in search of food, when the season for bringing forth young ones nears they will always go back to the same spot.
However, due to the increasing human population and activities, most of the animal migratory routes are being occupied living the animals to look for an alternative. This has brought about the need by the government and conservation bodies to pass policies in order to safeguard the major migratory routes.
Major Wildlife Corridors in Kenya
There are quite a number of migratory routes in Kenya though most have been interfered with due to human settlement and might not be in use in future if drastic measures are not taken.
We have the Southern Kenya Rangelands Ecosystem which has around 58 migratory routes that are divided further into six sub-ecosystems namely;
1.Maasai Mara Ecosystem
This comprises the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and the surrounding conservancies and private ranches. It stretches all the way to the Serengeti in Tanzania forming the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. This is where great wildebeest migration happens seeing over 1.5 million wildebeest, zebras, antelopes and gazelles crossing the River Mara from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara and back.
2. Nairobi National Park and Athi-Kaputiei Ecosystem
The Nairobi National Park is a special protected area being a wildlife reserve in a capital city. The Athi-Kaputiei area down to Kitengela are important corridors for wildlife especially in the wet season. This area is mainly inhabited by pastoralists and there are large commercial ranches and private dams stretching all the way to the Amboseli. Lately this area has been hit by land subdivision resulting in the land being fenced off hence need to protect the wildlife corridor.
Tsavo conservation is the largest wildlife protected area in Kenya occupying 4% of the country’s land surface and also holds the largest population of elephants in the country. It consists of Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo West National Park, South Kitui, Chyulu Hills and Mkomanzi Game reserve in Northwest Tanzania. The Taita Hills are found at the heart of this ecosystem with a number of group ranches and community land.
4.Amboseli Ecosystem and West Kilimanjaro Area
This area include Amboseli Natural Area, Chyulu Hills to Lake Magadi all the way to the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Arusha National Park to Lake Natron. There are also a number of group ranches, the vegetation comprises grasslands with a forest edge in the slope of Mt Kilimanjaro.
5. South Rift Ecosystem
The area stretch from Lake Magadi in Kenya to Lake Natron in Tanzania. It stretches all the way from Ngong Hills to Nguruman Range in Tanzania. The area is mainly used by the Maasai pastoralists and wildlife conservation. The only permanent source of water is Ewaso Ngiro river though there are other seasonal rivers.
6.Eburu Forest Ecosystem and Lakes Naivasha-Elementaita-Nakuru Conservation Area
This include the conservation area of the Great Rift Valley having several protected areas with a number of public and privates sanctuaries as well as ranches with a good wildlife population. This include; Lake Naivasha National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Hell’s Gate National Park, Lake Elemetaita, Mt Longonot, Mt Suswa, Eburu forest as well as private sanctuaries like Soysambu Sanctuary, Kedong Ranch, Ututu Ranch, Crater Lake Sanctuary, Oserian Ranch, Kikopey Ranch, Hippo point, Mundui, Marula, KARI and Loldia Ranches.
We also have the adjacent Mau Forest Complex which is a vital water tower for the country and identified for protection under the country’s vision 2030 policy blueprint.
There are 52 migratory corridors in the Northern Kenya Rangelands and Coastal Terrestial Ecosystem. They include;
1. Greater Ewaso Ecosystem
This covers the greater part of Northern Kenya moving from the slopes of Mt Kenya, Aberdare Range in the south-west to the east of Lake Turkana shoreline and Mt Marsabit. The area is highly used for communal pasture, has several protected conservancies as well as ranches.
Some of the protected areas include; Marsabit National Park, Meru National Park, The Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Park, Shaba and Kora National Reserves, Laikipia National Park, Ol-Jogi Conservancy, Lewa and Solio conservancies, Mount Kenya National Park, Aberdare and Mathews Ranges.
2. Turkana-Mt Elgon Ecosystem
This is in the North-West borders of Kenya touching the Republic of South Sudan and Uganda. It touches Lake Turkana and runs all the way to Kerio Valley in Kitale. The geographic features of the ecosystem include; Mt Elgon, Lotikkipi Plains, Kaloko/Turkwel gorge, Kerio Lowlands and Lake Turkana.
3. North-East Rangelands and Coastal Terrestrial Ecosystem
This ecosystem borders The Republic of Ethiopia and Somali to the north and east, The Indian Ocean to the south. This is one area that faces numerous constraints such as drought, insecurity, diseases etc. The protected areas include; Malkamari, Dodori, Boni, Arawale and Tana River Primate National Reserve.