Elephants are dual nationals in Kenya and Tanzania!
Dual citizenship though is illegal; elephants are not only defying the man-made law day in day out, but are also generating the much-needed tourism revenue for both Tanzania and its northern neighbour.
Kenya’s Amboseli National Park Assistant Warden Daniel Kipkosgey told a cross-border learning exchange programme that the same jumbos found in Amboseli were also in Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania.
“The elephants feed in Amboseli National Park at day time and in the evening cross the border to Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania to sleep,” he said, stressing: “This happens every day throughout the year.”
A formal forum, guidelines and an agreement between Kenya and Tanzania are required for managing the dual citizenship passport holders as a cross-border natural resource, he said.
Thanks to European Union (EU) for funding the Pan-African programme to improve trans-boundary dialogue between wildlife managers and bureaucrats from both countries for them to improve conservation of wildlife corridors and address other administrative challenges standing in the way of the dual citizens.
Circumstances influencing the existence of elephants in Kenya are different from those in Tanzania; conservationists in both countries can manage elephants more effectively if they understand them.
These include political will, legal conservation frameworks, administration and management of conservation areas, funding, education, human-animal conflicts and whether or not conservation road maps are in place, among others.
Oikos East African in collaboration with the African Conservation Centre facilitated the EU-funded cross-border learning exchange programme dubbed CONNECKT (Conserving Neighbouring Ecosystems in Kenya and Tanzania) between July and August this year.
Wildlife managers and bureaucrats from both countries learnt differences of management approaches and other issues pertaining to conservation of elephants in the Amboseli-Kilimanjaro ecological system across the Kenya-Tanzania border.
They included senior officials from Amboseli, Arusha and Kilimanjaro national parks; representatives of the Olgulului-Olorashi Group Ranch and Amboseli Area in Kenya; managers of community-based wildlife management areas or conservancies, namely Enduimet WMA, Kitirua Conservancy and Rombo Conservancy; and key wildlife management personnel from Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) and Longido District.
Besides sharing experiences and learning about conservation issues from Kenya and Tanzania, the officials also explored opportunities for jointly writing up grant proposals.
They had, among other things, realised that the political will on cross-border conservation existed through the East African Community (EAC) protocols of which both Kenya and Tanzania are members.
High ranking government officials based at the Kenya-Tanzania border also meet regularly to discuss cross-border issues, including security of natural resources.
The wildlife managers and bureaucrats visited various sites to analyse and compare factors influencing conservation of elephants on either side of the border and to identify synergies and differences.
Going by conservation status of the national parks, Kilimanjaro-Amboseli Ecosystem qualifies to become a Man and Biosphere Reserve. While Kilimanjaro National Park is recognised by UNESCO as a natural world heritage site, Amboseli National Park is already a Man and Biosphere Reserve.
The Kenya Wildlife Service is responsible for the management of all wildlife while Tanzania National Parks oversees wildlife in national parks only, whereas TAWA looks after wildlife in game reserves and wildlife corridors with conservation approaches different from those used for national parks.
Differences in the way Kenya and Tanzania manage their natural resources extend to land tenure systems as well. In Kenya, national parks are in community lands while in Tanzania are in public lands.
Wildlife in community or privately-owned lands in Kenya can often be found on ‘conservancies’, while in Tanzania can be found on communally-owned land known as WMAs. The conservancies are the equivalent of WMAs in Tanzania.
Currently, Kenya and Tanzania apply management guidelines or procedures independent of each other. These need to be harmonised to increase the protection of the internationally important Kilimanjaro-Amboseli Ecosystem.
The wildlife managers and bureaucrats are scheduled to meet again in the final quarter of the year for a follow-up cross-border forum which will further develop initial ideas and joint collaborative projects.