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Conservationists urge change of tack to protect Aberdare ecosystem

Conservationists have proposed a change of focus in efforts to protect the Aberdare National Park ecosystem.

Speaking at the start of the Aberdare Fence Run in Bondeni, Elephant Neighbours Centre CEO Jimmy Justus Nyamu said the Kenya Wildlife Service had curbed poaching in the area.

But he said other emerging issues threaten wild animals.

Mr Nyamu said climate change was among the challenges, adding that about 300 elephants had died from its effects in recent years and deaths were reported daily.

He also acknowledged the work of the KWS and Rhino Ark to minimise human-wildlife conflicts

But he urged the organisations to look “more into ways in which they could alleviate the effects of climate change”.

He said conservationists should start looking at how to protect an ecosystem rather than just a park. They also need to address the reduction of water coming from the Aberdare and the drying up of rivers in Mt Kenya, he added.

“This means this is when we should start talking about this issue of climate change,” he said.

Mr Nyamu also warned about the concentration of large numbers of animals in one park.

He suggested that some animals be removed out of parks that could no longer sustain them.

He said compensating people affected by human-wildlife conflict was no longer sustainable and that a long-term remedy is needed that would address climate change.

He proposed opening up animal corridors connecting to other ecosystems or creating more space for the animals. He also urged people to change their attitude towards animals “and since these animals are highly adaptive they can easily coexist” with humans.

Rhino Ark CEO Christian Lambrechts, Mountain Conservation Area senior assistant director Bakari Mungumi Chonwa and assistant director Joseph Dadadacha said the organisations also wanted to reduce human-wildlife conflict by fencing the Aberdare National Park and educating young people on the importance of conserving the park.

Learners from more than 100 schools around the park are involved in a weeks-long run to create awareness on the importance of conservation and maintaining the fence surrounding the park.

The conservationists believe involving learners at a young age will help them embrace wildlife conservation.

The Aberdare forest is one of the country’s major water towers.

The Aberdare ecosystem totals more than 3,000 square kilometres and includes a protected area of about 2,162 km2 consisting of Aberdare, Kikuyu escarpment, Kipipiri Forest Reserves and Aberdare National Park. Also included is Lake Ol Bolossat and the surrounding riparian system.

The annual Aberdare Fence Run is organized by the management of Aberdare National Park and Rhino Ark Charitable Trust and Kenya Forest Service.

It is aimed at creating conservation awareness of Aberdare ecosystem and the importance of Aberdare 400km electric fence to schools and communities bordering the park.

Media House: Daily Nation
Published by: Diana Boyani

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