Climate change will increase wildlife conflict, warns new IPCC report
Instances of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya have increased in recent years, with statistics revealing even more drastic effects due to climate change.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in February that shows agricultural productivity has fallen by 34% since 1961, leading to increased meat poaching. game.
Such a phenomenon could see communities living near national game reserves and parks engaging in illicit activities as some are not well secured. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has already reported an increase in meat poaching in Tana River County, with other counties in northern Kenya and the coastal region being on high alert over increased activities. of poaching. Samburu and Laikipia counties have also been mapped as possible hunting grounds for poachers.
In July 2021, three men from Tana River were jailed for 15 years each and fined Ksh 3 million (about £20,000) for killing 187 Dik Diks.
According to Jackson Kinyanjui, climate and energy expert at EED Advisory, poaching cases will increase in places such as Lake Naivasha ecosystems and other parts of Kenya like the northern border districts.
“We will probably see more conflict between wildlife and humans. Wild animals will invade the farms of peoples in search of pasture. In the past, we have seen snakes enter people’s houses in search of water. As temperatures increase, these cases will double,” Kinyanjui said.
In Kenya, most farmers practice rain-fed agriculture. The lack of application of modern technologies in agriculture leads to poor food production, which results in food shortages. This could now lead to illegal bushmeat hunting.
The case is however different in the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Immanuel Kisemei, a conservationist in the Mara ecosystem, says poaching cases in the area are almost non-existent because local communities have embraced conservation efforts by establishing private conservancies from which they benefit.
“Rising temperatures will certainly affect conservation, as the demand for pasture for wildlife and livestock will increase. The reduction of grasslands due to erratic weather is slowly making things difficult for wildlife, livestock and people,” Kisemei said.
Kisemei admits, however, that climate change has had a negative impact on the ecosystem, particularly on pastures for wildlife and livestock. A 2021 wildlife census shows Kenya’s elephant population has increased by 12% in just seven years.
While this is good news for African jumbos, there are fears of increased conflict between elephants and humans. Elephant habitats are shrinking as human population and activities increase, as well as climate change and environmental degradation, among other factors, reducing the land available for this megafauna to roam freely.
At present, the ecosystem of Amboseli faces a serious threat from private developers who have set up farms in the elephant corridors. Locals are preparing for a deadly battle with the jumbos that use the corridor to connect to Chyulu Hills National Park.
Currently, North Eastern Kenya is facing a severe drought which has killed hundreds of wildlife such as giraffes, antelopes, warthogs and others.
If temperatures continue to rise, more wildlife will die, especially in drought-prone regions. The situation is worrying for conservationists and government officials. Long seasonal rains are expected between March and May, but if they fail, more wildlife in northern Kenya will undoubtedly be lost.
There are fears that the situation could get worse if global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees, leading to more serious and even irreversible impacts, such as species extinction.
The IPCC report warns that by 2030, climate change will push 39.7 million Africans into extreme poverty. With just eight years to go until 2030, experts are already calling for swift action to tackle Africa’s looming climate crisis.
This article is reproduced here as part of the Space for Giants African Conservation Journalism programme, supported by major shareholder ESI Media, which includes Independent.co.uk. It aims to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in Africa and bring more African voices into the international conservation debate. Read the original story here.