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Cablegate: African Elephant Conservation Fund - Monitoring Of


DE RUEHNR #2349/01 3161302
R 121302Z NOV 09 ZDS





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: African Elephant Conservation Fund - Monitoring of
Elephants in the Greater Ewaso Ecosystem and the North Kenyan Coast

REF: Two proposals submitted to the USFWS African Elephant
Conservation Fund by:
1. "Monitoring of African Elephants along the North Kenyan Coast" by
Save the Elephants
2. Greater Ewaso Elephant Conservation by the Mpala Research Center

1. Summary. Kenya has been at the forefront of elephant conservation
in Africa under the leadership of the Kenya Wildlife Service
supported by NGOs of the scientific community. NGOs play significant
roles in elephant monitoring and surveillance, data acquisition and
analysis, training, advocating for conservation and leveraging
resources to match those of the Government of Kenya. The US Mission
to Kenya has reviewed proposals from two such organizations - Save
the Elephants and the Mpala Research Center - and unhesitatingly
endorses them. End Summary.

2. Kenya has long been associated with elephant conservation in
Africa, but the country's positions concerning elephant hunting and
the ivory trade have been contentious. Kenya normally takes
'contrarian' views on these issues compared to those held by many of
the other states within the geographic range of the African elephant
(the 'range states'). There are arguments concerning the benefits of
Kenya's positions, but there is no doubt about Kenya's commitment to
elephant protection and conservation.

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3. Kenya's elephants are recovering slowly from the massive poaching
of the 1970s and '80s. But populations are becoming more restricted
by massive increases in human population and destruction of habitat.
Since 1990, after the formation of a well-managed Kenya Wildlife
Service and the end of the legal ivory trade (through elevation of
African elephants to CITES Appendix I status), the national
population has gradually increased to roughly 30,000. Some areas of
the elephant's former range, particularly in the northern parts of
Kenya, are being re-occupied as security improves.

4. The largest home ranges for the Kenya's elephants are the Tsavo
and Laikipia-Samburu ecosystems and contiguous areas to the north.
Significant portions of these ecosystems fall within the Ewaso
landscape - one of the geographic areas in the proposal of the Mpala
Research Center and partners. The Greater Ewaso Landscape, and
Laikipia in particular, is gaining prominence as a wildlife
destination with tourism contributing substantially to the local
economy. Here, elephant population estimates in 2002 were above
5,000 individuals; this has now grown to over 7,000.

5. Populations of forest-dwelling elephants occur mainly in the
Aberdare Mountains and Mt. Kenya, with small, isolated groups in
coastal forests and western Kenya. The dense forests of the KIBODO
area, mainly in the Boni and Dodori National Reserves in Kenya's
north coast, are home to a critically endangered and largely
unstudied population of approximately 300 individuals. This
population is the subject of the proposal by Save the Elephants and
its partners.

6. The most urgent and immediate problems for elephants in these
ecosystems are the increasing frequency and severity of drought and
the escalation of illegal killing. Since April 2009, there has been
an increase in natural elephant mortality associated with the severe
drought in Northern Kenya. The majority of deaths have been juvenile
or sub-adults with a few cases of very old animals also succumbing.
Death has been attributed to lack of forage resulting in poor
nutrition and starvation, particularly among smaller elephants which
compete with livestock for browse. Illegal killing is a result of
conflict between humans/livestock and elephants over crop raiding
and competition for limited water resources. Of course, ivory
poaching plays a role.

7. The major threat to the Coastal elephant populations is likely to
be the large numbers of firearms in the hands of local communities,
mainly related to the breakdown of law and order in Somalia since
the early 1990s. Aerial counts of the elephants in the 1970s
estimated between 15,000 and 30,000 individuals. Their population
has since plummeted to estimated 50-300 individuals.

8. There is a critical need to better understand the populations'
response to threats. Monitoring is key to assessing the impact of
conservation efforts and to keep track of populations under
management. Therefore, the USG Mission in Kenya endorses the two
proposals by the Mpala Research Center and Save the Elephants and
their host of partners to bring US Fish and Wildlife Service
resources to bear in enhancing elephant monitoring efforts in the
Ewaso and North Coast landscapes.

9. The projects funded under these proposals should give numerous
benefits. Knowledge of home ranges and favored areas will assist
better-targeted surveillance and security to control poaching. The
accuracy in counts of coastal populations will improve as
information at present is highly variable. Interpretations of data
will enable better understanding of the impacts of climate change on
elephant distribution and on the quality of habitat. The data will

be used by wildlife managers to improve conservation strategies for
Kenya's elephants as they grapple to mitigate the factors driving
illegal killing. Finally, monitoring information will inform public
awareness campaigns, increase national interest and raise the
profile of elephant conservation among local communities living with

10. The USG in Kenya contributes to the elephant conservation and
management efforts of communities, local and international
organizations including the KIBODO Trust, Northern Rangelands Trust,
Laikipia Wildlife Forum and nearly two dozen community wildlife
conservancies. At the national level, the USG continues to work
collaboratively with KWS to advance policies, tools, attitudes, and
ideas for conserving wildlife in targeted landscapes. These
activities provide progressive partnerships with which USFWS may
engage to achieve the goals of the monitoring proposals.


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