A UNIQUE WILDLIFE SECURITY INITIATIVE

The Tsavo Conservation area in Kenya is home to the country’s unique elephant population as well as to indigenous communities such as the Maasai people, who have been co-existing with the elephants for millennia. However, due to the rise of poaching as one of the most lucrative international crimes, both animals and humans find themselves in a desperate, life-threatening situation. The TUI Care Foundation is now supporting an initiative that incorporates traditional knowledge from communities into a system of modern methods and technology to stop poaching before it happens. The initiative also provides modern equipment to local rangers and helps decrease human-elephant conflict incidents in the Tsavo Conservation Area.

With an area of roughly 42.000km2, similar to the size of the Netherlands, the Tsavo Conservation Area is Kenya’s largest national park and one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Approximately 12,850 elephants live in this area including one third of the remaining “Big Tuskers”, a species that is known for its gigantic tusks that can reach the ground. However, all elephants in the area are facing serious mortal threats caused by the increasing demand for ivory, the complexity of poaching and trafficking networks.

Apart from the wildlife, the area is also home to numerous local communities who often face raids by elephants endangering crops, livestock and even human lives. Such circumstances lead to angry and desperate farmers who try to fend off elephants.

The TUI Care Foundation has joined forces with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to stop poaching of wild elephants before it happens and prevent human-elephant conflict in the Tsavo Conservation Area of Kenya. Through IFAW’s innovative ‘tenBoma’ wildlife security initiative, both government and community rangers are trained to better predict and respond to threats, protecting both animals and local communities.

Through this partnership, 130 rangers and members of the Kenya Wildlife Service and Tsavo Trust are being coached to develop skills in collecting, processing and analysing information. This includes forensics and evidence gathering training.

High-tech analysis using smartphones, computers and satellites is combined with this information (which could also include the detection of unknown cars or smoke from an open fire, for which local communities are a key primary source of information), stores it in a database and then shares it with field teams who can investigate and take appropriate action. This innovative approach results in combating poaching and human-elephant conflict in an effective and proactive way while creating a safe and resilient environment for the communities.

As part of the project, human-wildlife conflict management meetings are regularly conducted, helping local communities express their concerns and come up with common solutions for a peaceful coexistence with the surrounding wildlife. A reporting channel linking six different villages has also been developed to exchange information across communities for conflict management and poaching threats alerting.

Moses Merin, a Maasai working in the community outreach programme, explains: “Those trained and employed as community rangers come from the communities we work with. This way they directly see the benefit of protecting wildlife.” Moses adds, “A lot of valuable information for the protection of wildlife we receive from women and their kids, but we also engage morans [younger, unmarried male members of the warrior group of the Maasai] so they can all see the benefit of these developments and spread the word in their communities when they come back.”

PROJECT PARTNER

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw) is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans, and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org.

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