The Mtito Andei Community Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution Group was formed in early 2013 and given formal recognition by the County Government of Makueni, Department of Youth, Women and Social Services, on February 12 2014. The community bordering the Tsavo Triangle, which lies east of Mtito-Andei, saw the need for such a group in order to serve and protect the community, land and wildlife bordering the park due to a high incidence of crop raiding by elephants and buffalo as well as the threat of lions, hyenas and leopards killing livestock.
This self-help group started with a small membership in early 2013, quickly growing to around 180 members in March 2014. The group consists of a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer, and presently has 21 volunteer scouts who have formed their own committee. The scouts have been chosen equitably between the three zones of the location, Ngiluni, Kiswanzuni and Mhuguni. The aim of the scouts is to monitor the human-wildlife conflict between elephants, buffaloes and predators in the zone, whilst educating community members about wildlife and the environment. The scouts conduct de-snaring patrols and deter community members from retaliation killing of wildlife in the area. The scouts meet every Friday afternoon to report and evaluate their weekly work. They will be completing daily records of human-wildlife conflict incidences that occur.
The group has set goals to encourage the community members to plant trees, prevent soil erosion and to be aware and care for their wildlife, as neighbours to the National Park. The group is promoting alternative methods of farming that minimize conflict with wildlife, such as green-housing and fruit production within well fenced areas, and encouraging the community to grow crops that are not favoured by elephants. All members are encouraged to report any incidences of crop raiding or livestock killing to the scouts, which in turn will be passed along to the Kenya Wildlife Service Community Department.
In the long term the community plans on establishing a fence line along the river, which marks the boundary between the community and the National Park. This fence line will serve to keep elephants and buffalo in the park, and would be a lower cost two to three strand design. There is also interest in developing beehive fences for front line farms to keep elephants away.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been supporting this resolution group since early 2013 through facilitation of planning, coordination with KWS, aerial surveillance of crop raiding elephants, and provision of bicycles, group t-shirts and office supplies - the initial support from the Trust has helped the group gain momentum and build interest and membership. The scouts are dedicated and committed to protecting property and wildlife, while KWS has provided regular support on the ground.
The DSWT is committed to supporting communities that show real concern and that are working to solve the human-wildlife conflict challenges resulting from the ever-growing population. The Trust recognizes that the communities surrounding Protected Areas play a vital role in the protection or eradication of wildlife, depending on their attitudes and level of education towards wildlife. The Mtito Andei Community Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution Group has proved to be self-driven and motivated to address these challenges, and with the ongoing support of the Trust it is hoped that other communities follow suit.
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