The expansion of agriculture in Kenya and its effect on the African elephant

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Animal Environment and Health

Abstract: The human-elephant conflict is the biggest threat to the population of African elephants (Loxodonta africana). One example of this is elephants entering and raiding cropland that sometimes destroys farmers' major source of income. Methods of preventing crop-raids often result in fatal injuries for both people and elephants. The increasing human population demands expansion of cropland to sustain future generations. The detrimental effect of this is agriculture’s expansion in elephants' habitat and migration routes that fragments areas of importance for elephants. It also creates higher availability of farmland that subsequently increases the risk of crop raids. Investigating the relationship between the agricultural expansion and the fluctuating elephant population is therefore important to determine the focus for future conservation. Qualitative interviews performed outside of Maasai Mara National Reserve showed mainly negative attitudes towards elephants. Descriptive statistics of elephant census data, agricultural data, and human population data were compiled from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and Food and Agriculture Organization between 1977 and 2012. The result displayed decreasing trends of the population of African elephant and increasing trends of agriculture and the human population. These trends in combination with the interviews show that there is a need to calm the current human-elephant crop raiding conflict and improve the attitudes of farmers. A suggestion is to support community-based wildlife management and strengthen the communication between farmers and responsible authorities. The agricultural expansion will persist but research on intensification of crop productivity could possibly reduce the area required.

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