Amboseli will never be the same. Events these last few months have fundamentally changed the course of this precious ecosystem.
Land subdivision plans have been completed for most of the large community ranches in the ecosystem. The maps are scary - four large ranches covering a total of 1 million acres, soon to be divided into tens of thousands of privately-owned plots ranging in size from 2 to 45 acres.
Whether this is for better, or for worse, will depend on how we all act next. We see it as an opportunity, and Big Life has invested significant time and resources into helping communities develop land-use plans that take into account the needs of both humans and wildlife. Hopefully, it sets the foundation for a win-win scenario where individuals get the private titles they want for some areas, and large spaces are kept open for wildlife conservation and livestock grazing in others.
Those who have followed the case of the commercial avocado farm in the Kimana Wildlife Corridor will understand the implications when land subdivision goes wrong. For now, the company has been told to cease operations, but the legal appeals continue, with the next round of hearings in September. This is proving to be a very expensive battle, but it’s one we can’t stop fighting. We know that there are other developers watching and waiting to see how this pans out.
We believe that there is space for both humans and wildlife in this ecosystem, and that the conflict between the two can be managed. The 100 km of crop-protection fencing that we have constructed continues to be effective at keeping (most) elephants out of farmlands, saving farmers money and saving elephants’ lives. This fence needs continual maintenance, but the expense is worth it.
Sadly, we cannot completely eliminate conflict everywhere. One person and two elephants tragically died this past quarter. Six elephants were also treated for spear wounds. Things will get harder as we head deeper into the dry season, and we are grateful for the hard work that our rangers do to handle this complex issue.
On the subject of rangers, we have just celebrated World Ranger Day, and we want to take a moment to personally thank each and every ranger that makes the stats in these reports a reality. Without our rangers and their dedication, there is no question that Amboseli would be a very different place.
Thank you too to all of our supporters who make it possible.
Richard Bonham and Craig Millar
Executive Chairman and COO - Big Life Kenya