The number of elephants has been increasing in the vast wilderness stretching over 500-km borderline, separating Tanzania and Kenya, according to wildlife officials.
Head of Enduimet Wildlife Management Area, in Longido District, Komolo Simeli said on Friday that elephants and other wild animals have started replenishing in the wilderness where Wildlife Management Areas in Longido, West-Kilimanjaro and Engaresero (Lake Natron) operate.
He said that the success story is a result of the initiatives made by African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), to join wildlife patrol efforts in the area for the last five years ago.
The official said that the initiative has been very successful in eliminating poaching along the multinational corridor.
“In the last four years there hasn't been a single case of jumbos poaching in the area…joint community patrol missions, has been behind this success story,” Simeli said, noting that the patrol missions are being coordinated by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) which operates both in Kenya and Tanzania.
The patrol missions are results of training for local communities on the need for them to take part in the anti-poaching fight.
Simeli further revealed that WMAs in Tanzania and Kenya are also involving villagers, cattle herders and women who gather firewood to look-out for any poaching suspects and report them promptly.
“Since all residents living along both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border speak almost same language, communication or alarms are usually conveyed using traditional signals that are very effective on that poachers do not understand what is taking place,” said Simeli.
Deputy Director of Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) in-charge of the Southern Zone, Julius Cheptei, revealed: “We conducted wildlife survey in 2010 when a total of 1200 elephants were counted and when another census was repeated late last year, the results have just revealed an increase of 700 jumbos and now the Longido-Oloitokitok-West-Kilimanjaro eco-system has over 1900 elephants.”
Cheptei pointed out that the scouting patrols recently discovered four dead elephant carcasses in West-Kilimanjaro but these had their tusks intact indicating that the Jumbos either succumbed to natural deaths or were killed amid human versus wildlife confrontations, also common in the precinct where elephants are believed to destroy farm crops.
AWF director, John Saleh, said while the joint anti-poaching drive between Kenya and Tanzania officials is bearing fruits, the latter must address penalties issued to culprits as they happen to be a bit lenient compared to Kenya.
“Kenya spells a sentence of up to 40 years for offenders and imposes a fine of 20 million Kenyan shillings from poachers all dealers of government trophies and that is equivalent to 35m/- here, but Tanzania normally charge 20 m/- local currency and even that is subject to the magistrates’ jurisdictions,” he said.
The joint patrol missions conducted along the territorial boundary were hatched four years ago, being meant to curb poaching and illegal harvesting of forests in the area, which is very rich in wildlife.