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
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
“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
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
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
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.