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Animals use pathways with ease along
Chinese-built railway: Kenyan official

By Peter Mutai NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Elephants in Tsavo National Park at the coastal Kenya have adapted to the new wildlife pathways that were opened to pave space for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line, a Kenyan official has revealed.

Margaret Mwakima, Principal Secretary of State Department of Natural Resources, said that a survey done early this year found out that the animals are walking along to the new routes with ease as some rests below the bridge.

“The way the elephants are behaving today indicate they are at home and that the new pathways do not interfere with them at all,” she said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The new SGR line that stretches from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi, running through Tsavo West National Park and will also pass through Nairobi National Park is 90 percent funded by the China Exim Bank while Kenya is funding the remaining 10 percent.

Part of the SGR is elevated on viaducts, allowing wildlife to pass without risk of injury. The rest is elevated on embankments, and six underpasses have been constructed to allow wildlife to cross.

The SGR engineers designed wildlife paths under the railway line to ease migration of wildlife in the areas.

There were earlier fears by environmental advocates that the new construction would greatly impact the wildlife within national parks.

Mwakima also revealed that Kenya is currently in discussion with the Chinese government with the aim of providing additional funds towards reforestation and wildlife conservation.

She said that the funding will be channeled to Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI).

“The conservation and sustainable management of wildlife and habitats are crucial to the country’s long term economic growth and development.”

Praising China’s bold move when they announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017, Mwakima said that the example should be emulated by other countries that still consume wildlife products.

She called on the Chinese wildlife officials to emulate Kenya’s efforts in conserving elephants and other wildlife to help boost the country’s economic income.

“Wildlife products belong to the wildlife while they are alive and they play a major role in attracting tourists and help sustain local economy while wildlife crime threatens security, economy and biodiversity of a country,” she added.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General Kitili Mbathi hailed China’s conservation role towards the increase of the population of the giant panda that was faced with extinction a few years ago.

The pandas were once widespread throughout southern and eastern China but due to expanding human populations and development, were reduced to limited areas that still contain bamboo forests.

“The two countries can learn from each other and we are ready to help the country have wildlife in the wild,” Mbathi added.

He said that China has lately been demonstrating to the whole world that wildlife is better alive than being killed. China is an example of what happens when a government is committed to conservation.

“They have done a good job by investing in panda habitats through the setting up of new reserves,” he noted.

In the recent past, wildlife crime has threatened security, economy, and biodiversity of Kenya as demand for rhino horn and elephant ivory continues to rise and poaching methods become increasingly sophisticated.

International networks for poaching, transit, and sale of illegal wildlife products target wildlife populations across borders, creating a complex problem that transcends national boundaries.

Mbathi observed that Kenya’s transit route for illegal wildlife products from Africa is fast closing down courtesy of the good working collaboration with China and other development agencies.

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