Most parts of Kenya are experiencing significant drought and the weatherman says that this dry spell could go on till mid-March at the least.

Humans have started feeling the heat as water becomes scarce. The low levels of water at Maruba Dam has, for example, made the director of Machakos Water and Sewerage Company to halt irrigating the beloved Machakos Peoples Park for the next two months and save the little remaining water to quench the domestic thirst of Machakos. The people of Taita Taveta are themselves quite thirsty and they have been forced to walk long distances in search of water and in the process crossing paths with ‘roaming thirsty wild animals’. This is a recipe for human-wildlife conflict.

In some places, the drought-induced human-wildlife conflict is already escalating. As a matter of fact, Kenya Wildlife Service is already reporting a rise in this conflict. On February 6, the Chinese Xhinhua News quotes the Acting Director, William Kiprono, saying that ‘wild animals have engaged in vicious competition with communities over water and pasture as drought engulfs the country’s savannah’. No animal is more intimidating than a thirsty elephant.

Elephants usually need lots of water, and they will do anything to get to it – well, almost anything. That’s what the people of Ishaqbini Community Conservancy are finding out – that their elephants are paranoid. And the Ishaqbini community is not blaming the elephants.

The Ishaqbini Conservancy was established by the community in Ijara District in 2007. I remember reading about it in SWARA Magazine that year . Their greatest success has been the Hirola Sanctuary, which by last year had seen a 70% increase in the population of the previously forgotten Hirola antelope (Beatragus hunteri).

The success of the conservancy also led to an increase in the population of big cats, elephants and other herbivores. The Hirola, however, were contained in a fenced out predator-free environment.

In the middle of 2014, an expectant elephant is reported to have broken into the Hirola sanctuary to give birth. In tow were seven other elephants. She knew that her family would be safe in this protected space.

Years of unrestrained poaching, however, have made the elephants of Ijara suspicious of their human co-habitats. They say an elephant never forgets, and these clearly remember years – if not decades – of being hunted down by humans for their ivory. They don’t have much love for people.

This poses a challenge for the good people of Ishaqbini who are trying to save elephants that don’t love them yet. As drought continues to bite, this elephant family finds itself without water, and having to depend – on the extreme – on succulent plants for water. They have refused to drink from everything that is even remotely man-made. And the people of Ishaqbini want to, and are trying to help, but the elephants just don’t trust them.

The Ishaqbini community is not giving up however, they continue to show the elephants all the love they can – after all, it is the month of love.

To try win the elephants over, the community, after a substantial amount of monitoring and mapping, chose a spot in very thick bush in which to build the most natural-looking water hole they could manage. This sweet romantic gesture may be working as the rangers who have been monitoring this small herd have reported that the elephants have come close to the waterhole to the point of dipping their toes in the water. That is a good sign.

This love dance is set to go on until the people of Ishaqbini can convince the elephants that they are there to help, and not to kill them. The work seems cut out for the infant god of love in this one.

Photos from NRT

 

 

How to Save Elephants that Dont Love You… Yethttp://kijanimedia.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/filling-the-pond.jpghttp://kijanimedia.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/filling-the-pond-150x150.jpg kijanimedia Conservation
Most parts of Kenya are experiencing significant drought and the weatherman says that this dry spell could go on till mid-March at the least. Humans have started feeling the heat as water becomes scarce. The low levels of water at Maruba Dam has, for example, made the director of Machakos...
<a href="http://localhost/kijaniwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/filling-the-pond.jpg"><img class="alignnone wp-image-793 size-full" src="http://localhost/kijaniwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/filling-the-pond.jpg" alt="" width="448" height="257" /></a> Most parts of Kenya are experiencing significant drought and the weatherman says that this dry spell could go on till mid-March at the least. Humans have started feeling the heat as water becomes scarce. The low levels of water at Maruba Dam has, for example, made the director of Machakos Water and Sewerage Company to <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201502050142.html" target="_blank">halt irrigating the beloved Machakos Peoples Park</a> for the next two months and save the little remaining water to quench the domestic thirst of Machakos. The people of Taita Taveta are themselves quite thirsty and they have been forced to walk long distances in search of water and in the process crossing paths with <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201501280498.html" target="_blank">'roaming thirsty wild animals'</a>. This is a recipe for human-wildlife conflict. In some places, the drought-induced human-wildlife conflict is already escalating. As a matter of fact, Kenya Wildlife Service is already reporting a rise in this conflict. On February 6, the Chinese <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/150206/drought-worsens-human-wildlife-conflicts-kenya-official" target="_blank">Xhinhua News quotes the Acting Director, William Kiprono</a>, saying that 'wild animals have engaged in vicious competition with communities over water and pasture as drought engulfs the country's savannah'. No animal is more intimidating than a thirsty elephant. Elephants usually need lots of water, and they will do anything to get to it - well, almost anything. That's what the people of Ishaqbini Community Conservancy are finding out - that <a href="http://www.nrt-kenya.org/water-for-elephants/" target="_blank">their elephants are paranoid</a>. And the Ishaqbini community is not blaming the elephants. The Ishaqbini Conservancy was established by the community in Ijara District in 2007. I remember reading about it in SWARA Magazine that year . Their greatest success has been the Hirola Sanctuary, which by last year had seen a 70% increase in the population of the previously forgotten Hirola antelope (Beatragus hunteri). The success of the conservancy also led to an increase in the population of big cats, elephants and other herbivores. The Hirola, however, were contained in a fenced out predator-free environment. In the middle of 2014, an expectant elephant is reported to have broken into the Hirola sanctuary to give birth. In tow were seven other elephants. She knew that her family would be safe in this protected space. Years of unrestrained poaching, however, have made the elephants of Ijara suspicious of their human co-habitats. They say an elephant never forgets, and these clearly remember years - if not decades - of being hunted down by humans for their ivory. They don't have much love for people. This poses a challenge for the good people of Ishaqbini who are trying to save elephants that don't love them yet. As drought continues to bite, this elephant family finds itself without water, and having to depend - on the extreme - on succulent plants for water. They have refused to drink from everything that is even remotely man-made. And the people of Ishaqbini want to, and are trying to help, but the elephants just don't trust them. The Ishaqbini community is not giving up however, they continue to show the elephants all the love they can - after all, it is the month of love. To try win the elephants over, the community, after a substantial amount of monitoring and mapping, chose a spot in very thick bush in which to build the most natural-looking water hole they could manage. This sweet romantic gesture may be working as the rangers who have been monitoring this small herd have reported that the elephants have come close to the waterhole to the point of dipping their toes in the water. That is a good sign. This love dance is set to go on until the people of Ishaqbini can convince the elephants that they are there to help, and not to kill them. The work seems cut out for the infant god of love in this one. <em>Photos from NRT</em>