Kenya, elephant poaching fell by 35%

Secondo un recente studio l’uccisione di pachidermi sarebbe calata notevolmente dal 2012 ad oggi.

When it comes to elephants, smiling is ever more difficult. The death toll is constantly updated and individuals separating the species from extinction are fewer and fewer. However, there’s good news. According to an investigation carried out by the humanitarian and conservationist association Northern Rangelands Trust, elephant poaching in Northern Kenya decreased by 35% since 2012.


Elephants in Northern Kenya © 2015 Ami Vitale


The study assessed an area of over 6 million acres, home to 27 communities. Environmentalists highlighted the crucial role local communities play in fighting poaching, and results in northern Kenya demonstrate that this is the right way to go.


African elephants’ survival is at risk, being threatened by poachers that kill animals for their tusks. The current population counts 430,000 individuals, compared to 1.2 million in 1980. Measures taken to stop this slaughter are many, such as increased penalties, increased patrols and armed forces, more protected parks, but results fall short of expectations.


“Elephant conservation can’t just be about guys with guns enforcing laws,” says Matt Brown, director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Africa. “The community has to be involved. Community members have to benefit from wildlife”.


The Northern Rangelands Trust cooperated with local communities to improve livestock grazing productivity © Ami Vitale for The Nature Conservancy


Cohabitation between people and animals is often arduous: elephants can devastate crops and, at the same time, they are a possible source of wealth. “We have to demonstrate to people that elephants are worth protecting because these animals are worth more alive than dead,” said Brown.


The Northern Rangelands Trust represents a winning model in creating incentives for local communities. The association has successfully carried out collaborations with 27 communities that now deal with conservation. Each community is governed by a council of elders that makes decisions about land management and investments in communities including clinics, schools and ecotourism facilities.


The memebers of the association worked side by side with locals in order to improve livestock grazing management and productivity, develop new sources of income, such as some forms of craftsmanshift, guaranteeing the access to markets. Indeed, shepherds’ incomes have increased and the report shows a close link between the improvement of locals’ living conditions and the reduction in elephant poaching.


The Northern Rangelands Trust helped communities develop new forms of income, such as craftsmanshift © Ami Vitale for The Nature Conservancy


However, according to Brown, communities’ commitment can’t be the only solution. “Enforcement of laws is not the only answer, but it is still important. Addressing the ivory trade and ivory buyers is important. But the decrease in elephant poaching shows that we also need communities to adequately address the poaching issue”.

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