From National Geographic:
Road to Recovery?
Photograph courtesy Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
An African elephant approaches an underpass beneath the busy Nanyuki-Meru road in northern Kenya in a recent picture.
The first of its kind for elephants, the underpass will ideally provide a safe corridor for the large mammals to move throughout the Mount Kenya region (map), where highways, fences, and farmlands have split elephant populations, according to Geoffrey Chege, chief conservation officer of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a Kenya-based nonprofit.
Without the underpass, animals that try to move between isolated areas often destroy fences and crops—leading to conflicts with people. (Related pictures: “‘Ghost Chili’ Scares Off Elephants.”)
Since its completion in late 2010, the underpass has been a “tremendous success”—hundreds of elephants have been spotted walking through the corridor, according to the conservancy.
First seeing pictures of the elephants using the underpass “was an awesome moment,” Chege said by email.
The Mount Kenya-Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Corridor Project is a joint effort of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kisima Farm, Marania Farm, the Bill Woodley Mount Kenya Trust, and Ngare Ndare Forest Trust.
Image courtesy Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
The elephant underpass (pictured in 2011) could have at least two other benefits. For one, it could improve the genetic health of northern Kenya elephants, since more genes will mix as the animals move into various territories and find new mates.
The corridor may also mean that elephants will move around more, reducing pressure on habitats—and possibly helping other species that use the same resources, such as the black rhinoceros, according to the conservancy.
(See elephant pictures.)