2 JULY 2006
As a change from FoNNaP’s speaker series, this Members Gathering featured “Elephant Diaries”, a five part video, produced by Jonathan Scott, and broadcast on BBC. In “Elephant Diaries”, Mr. Scott, along with co-narrator Michaela Strachan, chronicle the progress of elephant orphans from their arrival to the Daphne Sheldrick elephant orphanage adjacent to Nairobi National Park, to their eventual reintroduction into the wild. “Being orphaned is only the beginning.”
Relationships and mentoring is of key importance in the development of elephants, and especially so for orphaned elephants, who are without their natural and biological mentors. At the orphanage, elder orphans, in particular female orphans, guide, comfort, and reassure the younger orphans. In addition, the keepers at the orphanage provide devoted and constant care, even sleeping in the same area with the young orphaned elephant to offer security. Young elephants who arrive to the orphanage are badly traumatised, and if they do not overcome their severe emotional stress quickly and adapt to orphanage life, the results are often fatal.
The immediate hours once a call is made to the orphanage to report an orphaned and abandoned young elephant are critical. From Sheldrick’s, a rescue team flies from Wilson Airport to the site where the elephant has been identified. The elephant must be safely captured, then tranquilized to take the plane journey back to Nairobi. During the flight, the unconscious elephant must be carefully watched to ensure proper breathing. At arrival, elephant formula, specially developed by Mrs. Sheldrick, is ready for feeding, if the elephant will allow.
The orphans form a “mini herd”, where interaction in feeding and play develop bonds, trust and growth. When the orphans are approximately two years old, they are ready to be reintroduced into the wild. The Sheldrick orphans are taken by truck to vast areas in Tsavo, where their learning continues. The orphans are still kept in a group environment, being released into the wild during the day, then returned to an enclosed area for safety at night. Keepers still play a part in their maintenance, but much more in the background. Again, key importance is a matriarchal mentor, an elder female elephant to do all new things first. For example, now in the wild, the orphans having been nurtured in a controlled environment have a poor knowledge of how to browse the Tsavo vegetation successfully. The matriarch elephant will show the others which plants to eat. In meeting wild elephants at a watering hole for the first time, the matriarch elephant will show the others proper elephant etiquette and behaviour. At the watering hole, the matriarch will drink and bathe, have a good rub in the mud to brush off ticks and other parasites, and the others will learn from her example.
EVIRONMENTAL NEWS. . .
“Water shortage hits Kenya’s Export Processing Zones”
The Daily Nation reports 30 June 2006, that garment factories at the EPZ in Athi River are considering closing shop due to a biting water shortage. Representatives of the affected companies said they are incurring loss of Ksh 360 per item produced. Each month, approximately 180,000 garments are manufactured. The cost of production had gone up considerably because they had to buy water – a key ingredient in the production process – from private boreholes as they were not getting any from the Nairobi Water Co. Nbi Water Co. acknowledges that it is unable to provide factories with enough water and that a water rationing programme was in place.
The garment firms say that the shortage has negatively affected their deadlines, forcing them to airlift their merchandise, which is more expensive than shipping, to export markets. In addition, the fear of a disease outbreak is real as the health situation has deteriorated due to the shortage. The area has been without water since last Friday. A garment firm requires 300,000 litres per day, which it must now buy from vendors.
“Pay for wildlife attack increases”
The Daily Nation reports 7 July 2006, that compensation for a person killed by wild animals has been increased from Ksh 30,000 to Ksh 200,000. For an injured person, the compensation is Ksh 50,000, up from Ksh 15,000, with immediate effect. The amount is expected to increase when a new law due next year takes effect, Tourism Minister Morris Dzoro said. The money would come from the Ministry’s budget. The minister was speaking at the KWS HQ’s when he inaugurated a committee to review the wildlife law. He instructed them to fix compensation in line with the current economic situation. A draft is expected to be ready by February, and then forwarded to Parliament. The committee, comprising the National Advisory Board, the National Steering Committee and the Secretariat, will be based at the ministry in Nairobi.
Among other issues they will tackle are the role of KWS, the human-wildlife conflict, loss of migration corridors, user rights and the sharing of wildlife benefits. Mr. Dzoro told the team that a new era in wildlife management had dawned on Kenya, with a scientific focus and involving all the interested parties. The new method will ensure communities living close to sanctuaries benefit to enable them sustain the wildlife. “Without support and appreciation from the public, wildlife as a natural resource is doomed”, he said.
“New laws give NEMA teeth to fight for a cleaner Kenya”
Titus Mung’ou writes in the Standard, 10 July, that the recent gazettement of environmental inspectors by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has given the authority the impetus t crack the whip on environmental polluters. Since its establishment, critics have acused NEMA of failing to enforce its own regulations.
Polluters of the environment seem to be having a field day, ignoring environmental directives. The worst cases cited involved blatant refusal by some enterprises to undertake mandatory environmental audits. Street are littered with garbage and all sorts of solid waste.
NEMA is the Government’s principal agency charged with the coordination and supervision of environmental matters, and has faced a barrage of questions from different quarters with regard to compliance with the law. A member of the Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Environment questioned why the Authority was not arresting those violating the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, enacted 1999. The answer lay in lack of structures to implement the Act.
These have been put in place and NEMA has the teeth to fight for a cleaner and sustainable environment.
“SPECIAL REPORT: The city by -passes that are now on the climbing lane”
The Standard, 26 July, reports the the plans to construct a southern bypass ring road have come to a stall. When the Narc government was voted into power, much activity and demolition was executed in preparation for southern bypass ringroad, in order to facilitate traffic enroute from Mombasa to the interior. In part, the intent of the planners of the bypass is to criss cross and hive off 40 acres off Nairobi National Park.
“Home on the Range: A Corridor for Wildife”
The New York Times reports, 23 May 2006, that US conservationists in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund, are trying to create a new wildlife refuge that would link reserves from Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, US, to the Yukon in Canada. Wildlife naturally migrate throughout the entire region, and not just in protected areas. Human routes fragment the wildlife’s natural habitat. Wildlife either avoid the roads or cross and risk death. Participants in the collaboration have designed and monitored overpasses and underpasses to help wildlife cross highways safely. Limits are placed on golf courses and ski slopes so animals can traverse them. Wildlife corridors will be created around and even through towns.
The goal is not isolated wolf packs, or scattered grizzly bears, elk or bighorn sheep, but a landscape in which wildlife can thrive, roaming and reproducing widely and avoiding the genetic perils of small populations trapped in shrinking habitats. The name for this goal is classified as “functional connectivity”. Around the world, conservationists are embarking on similar efforts. In India, wildlife experts are trying to establish corridors linking fragments of tiger habitat. Similar projects are underway in Costa Rica and Australia.