Jonathan and Jecca would like to support the construction of an Elephant Underpass to keep a major migration corridor open.
In 2010 Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, partner conservation organizations, local community members, Kenyan government entities and farming corporations came together to address human-elephant conflict and hindered elephant migration around Mt. Kenya. To tackle these issues, a corridor was constructed to facilitate safe migration and connect families of elephant from Samburu with the otherwise cut-off families on Mt. Kenya. The key to success of this corridor is a purpose-built elephant underpass beneath the busy freeway that stretches between the towns of Meru and Nanyuki. The underpass was opened in January 2011 and is used regularly by elephants, including whole families and their young.
However, there is another unpaved road, leading to the small community of Ntirimiti, which intersects the corridor. This road has heavy foot and vehicle traffic coming to and from the freeway. In order to keep the migration corridor open, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy wishes to raise funds to support the building of this second underpass beneath the road.
In this region most people rely on subsistence farming to survive and an elephant passing through their land could push a family past the brink of financial ruin and starvation. As a result, there is a high potential for violence and anger against elephants as people try to protect themselves, their families and their livelihoods. The threat to elephants from humans is made far worse by a growing demand for ivory in Asian countries, which is feeding the illegal poaching of these majestic beasts. It is the goal of Lewa to initiate and support projects that allow communities to harness the benefits of wildlife, rather than resort to short-term solutions.
When the elephant corridor was first designed, no one expected it to be so heavily and constantly in use. At the same time, passing locals from the farming community of Ntirimiti travel along this road to reach the main highway. This juxtaposition holds dangerous potential. Because of the high number of elephants crossing their path, vehicles often have to wait for animals to move and travellers on foot run to avoid a dangerously close encounter with an elephant.
Were an incident to take place, the corridor would have to be shutdown until the situation was resolved, limiting both the elephants ability to travel, and creating potential for unpredictable elephant destruction as they clear their own routes. Any incidences that result in human harm will set back the mind-set in the communities and damage years of awareness raising around the benefits of conservation and wildlife protection.
Building a second elephant underpass beneath the road to Ntirimiti will not only allow the corridor to remain open, it will also garner community support for wildlife protection, making locals feel safer about the elephant corridor that passes so close to their communities.