Kenya plans electric fence to reduce human-wildlife conflict

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Kenya’s environment ministry, in partnership with conservation lobby groups, on Friday launched a 163 km electric fence project in Laikipia county to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

Both the county government of Laikipia and wildlife campaigners financed the construction of the electric fence at a cost of 875,000 U.S. dollars, mainly to keep elephants away from farms.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Judi Wakhungu, presided over the launch of the project in Laikipia county, which hosts a large number of wild animals outside protected areas in Kenya.

Wakhungu said the installation of the electric fence, which could prevent elephants from invading farms, marked a new milestone in conservation of iconic wildlife species.

“The electric fence is extremely important because it is going to mitigate human-wildlife conflict,” she said.

She regretted that rapid population growth has led to the shrinking of wildlife habitat as farmers and herders encroach them for their livelihood.

“The declining space for wildlife could overtake poaching as a major threat to these species,” said Wakhungu.

Elephants in the meantime cause economic losses to farmers when they step onto their farms, destroying their crops.

Kenya is trying to promote harmonious co-existence between humans and wildlife.

Wakhungu said the fencing project will not only boost wildlife protection but also transform rural livelihoods.

The money for the project was raised during the April 29 inaugural global ivory summit in Kenya that preceded the torching of 105 tons of elephant tusks and 1.3 tons of rhino horns led by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Laikipia county in northern Kenya has been an epicenter of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya for decades.

The county is home to an estimated 6,300 elephants and a significant population of carnivores, birds and rare plant species.

 

– XINHUA

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